RealtyTrac reports foreclosure activity fell 9% in November

Trouble ahead: Foreclosure starts increase for first time since mid-2012

RealtyTrac’s November report reports 112,498 foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — for the month, a decrease of 9% from the previous month and down 1% from a year ago.

This marks the 50th consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in overall foreclosure activity.

The report also shows one in every 1,170 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.

However, starts are up. A total of 55,906 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in November, a decrease of 1% from the previous month but a 6% increase from a year ago, the first year-over-year increase following 27 consecutive months of year-over-year decreases.

Some 50,102 U.S. properties were scheduled for foreclosure auction during the month, down 16% from an 18-month high in the previous month but up 5% from a year ago.

Lenders repossessed 25,249 properties in November, down 10% from the previous month and down 17% from a year ago, making November the 24th consecutive month with year-over-year decreases.

 “The housing market is struggling to find the new normal when it comes to a tolerable level of foreclosure activity in this post-Great Recession economy,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Finding that new normal requires striking a balance between too much loan risk, which would result in another housing meltdown, and too little risk, which could result in a stunted recovery.

“Foreclosure rates on 2014-originated loans are actually higher than 2013-originated loans nationwide and in many markets, indicating that lenders are open to a slightly higher level of risk than we’ve seen over the past five years of extremely tight lending standards,” Blomquist continued. “But it’s unlikely that lenders will dial up that risk level too quickly going forward given that many are still dealing with working through a lengthy and messy foreclosure process on risky loans from the last loose lending spree.”

Scheduled foreclosure auctions increased from a year ago in 30 states, including Kentucky (up 163%), Tennessee (up 159%), North Carolina (up 157%), New Jersey (up 117%), Oregon (up 114%), New York (up 76%), Texas (up 34%), Pennsylvania (up 13%), Georgia (up 8%), and Washington (up 7%).

 “I think the reason we’ve seen foreclosure activity go up in Seattle over the past year is because banks are simply better prepared for defaults. As a result, they’re able to get a higher volume of foreclosures processed much more quickly,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market

Other high-level findings from the report:

  • Foreclosure starts, which in some states are the scheduled foreclosure auctions, increased from a year ago in 30 states, including New Jersey (up 256%), Nevada (up 138%), Massachusetts (up137%), Indiana (up 55%), and Utah (up 20%).
  • REOs increased from a year ago in 15 states, including Maryland (up 93%), North Carolina (up 66%), New York (up 64%), Kentucky (up 56%), New Jersey (up 54%), Iowa (up 29%), and Massachusetts (up 29%).
  • Five of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity: New York (up 71%), Houston (up 70%), Philadelphia (up 43%), Boston (up 27%) and Baltimore (up 22%).

Among the nation’s 20 largest metros, those with the five highest foreclosure rates were Miami (one in every 394 housing units with a foreclosure filing), Tampa (one in every 432 housing units), Baltimore (one in every 576 housing units), Philadelphia (one in every 625 housing units), Chicago (one in every 716 housing units) and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario in Southern California (one in every 725 housing units). 

“There are hotspots in some of the inland areas but overall we are seeing foreclosure activity continue to decline to historical norms." said Chris Pollinger, senior vice president of sales at First Team Real Estate, covering the Southern California market.

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