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Mortgage

RealtyTrac: Foreclosure filings drop to nine-year low

Clean up from financial crisis

Wrapping up last year, new industry data shows that foreclosure filings dropped to a new nine-year low.

Foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 1,083,572 U.S. properties in 2015, the lowest annual total since 2006, when there were 717,522 properties with foreclosure filings nationwide,RealtyTrac’s foreclosure market report said.

This is also down 3% from 2014 and down 62% from the peak of 2,871,891 properties with foreclosure filings in 2010.

“In 2015 we saw a return to normal, healthy foreclosure activity in many markets even as banks continued to clean up some of the last vestiges of distress left over from the last housing crisis,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“The increase in bank repossessions that we saw for the year was evidence of this cleanup phase, which largely involves completing foreclosure on highly distressed, low value properties,” Blomquist continued.

Foreclosure starts in December were down 30% from a year ago, marking the sixth consecutive month with an annual decrease in foreclosure starts, while bank repossessions in December grew 65% from a year ago, marking the 10th consecutive month with an annual increase in REOs.

For the second consecutive year, the annual foreclosure rate was below 1% of all U.S. housing units, coming in at 0.82% this year.

On monthly basis, the report said there were 103,373 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in December, down 1% from the previous month and down 9% from a year ago. This is the third consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity.

While news overall is good, the report noted that it was not universal across the country

“Local economic problems became a larger driver of foreclosure activity in 2015,” Blomquist said. “Examples of this are Atlantic City, New Jersey, which posted the nation’s highest metro foreclosure rate for the year, along with several heavy oil-producing markets in Texas and Oklahoma where foreclosure activity increased in 2015, counter to the national trend.”

Some of the biggest increases in REOs were in New Jersey (up 226%), New York (up 194%), Texas (up 115%), North Carolina (up 108%) and Pennsylvania (up 61%).

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