Foreclosure rates have fallen to their lowest level in nearly
five years, led by big decreases in the battered housing markets of
California, Arizona and Nevada.At the same time, the large declines
in those states masked a pattern of rising foreclosure rates in
many parts of the country, including increases in new foreclosure
starts in just over half of all states.
There were a total of 189,000 foreclosure filings in April,
according to figures released today by the foreclosure data firm
RealtyTrac. That's the lowest figure reported since July 2007 and
represents a 5 percent drop from March and a 14 percent decline
since April 2011.
Short sales increasing
Brandon Moore, RealtyTrac CEO, said the decline was due in part
to a larger share of foreclosures being resolved through short
sales, rather than completing the process through a bank
repossession. He said that preliminary data suggests that
pre-foreclosure sales exceeded sales of bank-repossessed properties
during the first quarter of the year in California, Arizona and 10
Such an increase may suggest that banks in those states are
increasingly willing to allow distressed homeowners to sell their
homes at a loss to the bank, rather than pressing the foreclosure
process through to an end.
Some states see big increases
Despite the overall decline in foreclosure activity nationally,
26 states saw a month-to-month increase in foreclosure starts in
April, while 27 posted an annual increase over April 2011. The
biggest annual increases in foreclosure starts were in New Jersey,
up 180 percent; Utah, up 179 percent; Indiana, up 49 percent:
Pennsylvania, up 44 percent; Florida, up 43 percent and Michigan,
up 42 percent.
Many of the states posting increased foreclosure rates are
judicial foreclosure states, meaning that foreclosures there must
be handled through the courts. Moore suggested that non-judicial
foreclosure states were able to process foreclosures more rapidly,
meaning they have less of a backlog to work through than states
with the judicial foreclosure process.
Repossessions down for 18 straight months
Nationwide, lenders repossessed over 51,000 homes in April,
representing a 26 percent decline from April 2011 and the 18
consecutive month of annual decreases in repossessions.
Thirty-seven of the 50 states showed annual decreases in their
repossession rate in April.
Included in the RealtyTrac monthly report are notices of default
(new foreclosures), scheduled foreclosure actions and bank
repossessions. The survey does not include homes that are in the
foreclosure process but were not subjected to a new filing or
foreclosure action during the month.
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