Foreclosures down 34% in 2011, but ...

Nearly 1.9 million U.S. properties were foreclosed on in 2011. While the number might seem steep, it's down a remarkable 34 percent from 2010 -- and is at the lowest level since 2007.

Despite the better numbers, 2011 will remain the year Brian Perez remembers most. CBS News senior business correspondent Anthony Mason spoke the former mortgage broker who lost his job - then lost his house.

"Regardless of how much I tried to comply with the bank, it didn't work out in my favor," Perez told CBS News.

Though a 49-month low of only 205,000 foreclosures were filed in December 2011, it's not because the economy is getting better. Real estate analyst Rick Sharga said procedural delays have led to the lower numbers.

Paperwork issues, robo-signing and regulatory matters have slowed the process down. Now, it takes 348 days on average to process a foreclosure - two months longer than it took in 2010.

Brian Perez lost his job as a mortgage broker, and his home was foreclosed on in 2011. Although foreclosures were down 34 percent last year, they still affected 1.9 million Americans CBS

Sharga estimates that in the worst case scenario, there's still six million foreclosed homes that need to be processed. He believes U.S. has two to three "challenging" years before the housing crisis is over.

Unlike the nearly 4 million people who lost their homes, Perez's story has a happier ending. He and his family were able to find a real estate investor to buy the house from the bank for $25,000 and sell it back to them for $75,000.

"I won at the end of the day because I was able to find somebody like the gentleman that helped me," he said.

  • Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"