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Nevada foreclosure rate led nation in April

Michelle Rindels, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- After briefly falling from its long-held place as the nation's foreclosure king, Nevada chalked up the highest foreclosure rate in the country for the second straight month in April, a tracking firm said Thursday.

The rate could remain high as lawmakers consider a measure to loosen restrictions on lenders.

Statistics released by RealtyTrac show nearly 1,900 homes received an initial notice of default last month — a 40 percent increase from a year ago.

Meanwhile, a total of 3,227 homes received some sort of foreclosure-related filing in April, down 15 percent from March and down 17 percent from the year-ago period.

A state Senate committee reviewed a bill on Thursday to ease requirements on lenders seeking to foreclose. The bill, AB300, unanimously passed the Assembly last month.

Current law says lenders must personally know the history of a home loan before they can foreclose on a property. Critics say that's an impossibly high standard because mortgages were bought and sold at such a rapid pace during the housing boom and the subsequent meltdown.

Realtors are eager to see the bill enacted. They have been battling with persistently low housing inventory that has helped push up prices by 31 percent year-over-year in the Las Vegas area while spurring fierce bidding wars between investors.

With only a five-week supply of sellable homes on the market, traditional buyers who want loans to finance homes must compete with cash-rich investors. More than 59 percent of existing homes sold in April were purchased with cash, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

If AB300 passes, banks would find it easier to foreclose on borrowers who have not been paying their mortgages, and more homes could come on the market.