Fact-checking O'Malley on foreclosures


Debating the economy today on "Face the Nation," Governors Martin O'Malley, D-Md., and Haley Barbour, R-Miss., had as you would imagine different opinions on the economic record of President Obama.

Barbour said bluntly that the Obama administration's policies "have made this economy worse, not better."

O'Malley said that the President deserves credit for turning around a bad economy. "If you look at the mess that the president was left because of the wreck that George Bush made of the economy, you now look at some signs of our economy stabilizing," he said.

O'Malley then cited a series of statistics, including 10 recent months of job creation and a stabilized banking industry to make his claim. "Foreclosures are at their lowest level in 44 months," he added.

With so much doom and gloom surrounding the housing industry, the foreclosure statistic may sound exaggerated at best, but at a closer look, it is fairly accurate.

"Foreclosure Activity Falls to 44-Month Low in July" is the headline from RealtyTrac, an online housing analyst site. "July foreclosure activity dropped 35 percent from a year ago, marking the 10th straight month of year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity and the lowest monthly total since November 2007," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac in a release.

So the claim made by Governor O'Malley is correct for the month of July.

But RealtyTrac said in their report for August that foreclosures were back on the rise.

The group recorded that foreclosures saw "a 7 percent increase from the previous month, but still down nearly 33 percent from August 2010." But while going up, analysis shows overall, foreclosures are down considerably from where they were, exactly the point Governor O'Malley was trying to make.

"Despite the monthly increase, default notices were still down 18 percent from August 2010 and were 44 percent below the monthly peak of 142,064 default notices in April 2009," wrote RealtyTrac.

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    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.