RealtyTrac: Foreclosure Starts Slow to 79-Month Low

RealtyTrac: Foreclosure Starts Slow to 79-Month Low

02/14/2013 BY: ESTHER CHO

Foreclosure activity slowed in January with an especially notable drop in foreclosure starts, which hit a 79-month low, according to a recent foreclosure report from RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure filings—default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions—were reported on 150,864 U.S. properties, representing a monthly and yearly decrease of 7 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

Data from RealtyTrac also revealed a steep drop in foreclosure starts as starts fell 11 percent from the December and 28 percent from January 2012. Foreclosure starts are now at the lowest level since June 2006.

Bank repossessions, or REOs, were down to the lowest level since February 2008 after decreasing 5 percent month-over-month and 24 percent year-over-year.

Although starts and bank repossessions decreased, scheduled foreclosure auctions displayed month-over-month increases in 26 states and the District of Columbia.

The overall decrease in foreclosure starts was influenced by the significant drop in notices of default in California, where starts fell 62 percent from December and 75 percent from a year ago.

California’s decrease follows the adoption of the Homeowner Bill of Rights, which took effect January 1, 2013.

“Dubbed the Homeowners Bill of Rights, this legislation extends many of the principles in the national mortgage settlement – including a prohibition on so-called dual tracking and requiring a single point of contact for borrowers facing foreclosure – to all mortgage servicers operating in California,” said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac. “In addition the new law imposes fines of up to $7,500 per loan for filing of multiple unverified foreclosure documents. As a result, the downward foreclosure trend in California accelerated into hyper speed in January, decisively shifting the balance of power when it comes to the nation’s foreclosure activity.”

One shift, for example, is Florida’s new lead as the state with the highest number of foreclosure filings, a first in 6 years.

“For the first time since January 2007 California did not have the most properties with foreclosure filings of any state. Instead that dubious distinction went to Florida, where January foreclosure activity increased on an annual basis for the 11th time in the last 13 months,” Blomquist said.

For the fifth straight month, Florida also held its position as the state with the highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 300 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in January. The national average is one in every 869.

Florida also held six of the top 10 metros with the highest foreclosure rates. Ocala ranked No. 1, where one in every 223 housing units received a foreclosure filing in last month.

Other Florida metros in the top 10 list were Miami (No. 2), Orlando (No. 3), Jacksonville (No. 8), Tampa (No. 9), and Lakeland (No. 10).
Metros outside of the Florida included Rockford, Illinois (No. 4); Stockton, California (No. 5); Las Vegas (No. 6); and Chicago (No. 7).

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