More than 1.7 million homeowners were verging on foreclosure this fall, making it likely that these houses will soon end up on the market one way or the other, driving down overall housing values.

“We’re going to be dealing with high levels of distressed (sales) in the marketplace for at least a couple of years,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist of researcher First American CoreLogic, which has been studying the problem.

Some real estate practitioners say they fear that this onslaught is coming.

“We’ve been in recovery mode for most of the year. How many foreclosures do they have to dump on the market to affect that? I don’t know,” says Deborah Farmer, owner of StarLight Realty in Tampa, Fla. “Any house priced under $225,000 will be affected by a large increase in foreclosures in this market.”

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