LOS ANGELES (AP) — More homeowners who’ve fallen behind on their mortgage payments have been getting that first default notice from the bank.

The firm RealtyTrac says the number of U.S. homes that received an initial foreclosure notice in August went up 33 percent from the month before. The increase is a nine-month high and the biggest monthly gain in four years.

The spike signals that banks are starting to take swifter action against homeowners, nearly a year after processing issues led to a sharp slowdown in foreclosures.

Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac, says it’s possible that the spike is a blip, but he says “I think it’s much more likely we’re seeing the beginning of a trend here.”

Foreclosures began to slow last fall after problems surfaced with the way many lenders were handling foreclosure paperwork.


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