RealtyTrac: More homeowners are avoiding foreclosure than ever before

New report shows that foreclosure starts hit record low in first half of 2016

A new report from RealtyTrac shows that more homeowners are keeping their homes out of foreclosure than ever before.

The good news comes courtesy of RealtyTrac’s Midyear 2016 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows that there were a total of 253,408 properties that started the foreclosure process in the first half of 2016.

That’s down 17% from one year ago and the lowest level for any half-year period since RealtyTrac began tracking foreclosure starts in 2006, the company said.

And it’s not just foreclosure starts that are on the decline.

According to RealtyTrac’s report, there were a total of 94,469 U.S. properties with a foreclosure filing (default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions) in June, which is down 6% from May, down 19% from the same time period a year ago, and the lowest level since July 2006.

Additionally, RealtyTrac’s report showed a total of 533,813 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in the first six months of 2016, down 20% from the previous six months, and down 11% from the first six months of 2015.

“Although there are some local outliers, the downward foreclosure trend continued in the first half of 2016 in most markets nationwide,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac.

“While U.S. foreclosure activity is still above its pre-recession levels, many of the states hit hardest by the housing crisis have now dropped below pre-recession foreclosure activity levels,” Blomquist added. “With some exceptions, states with foreclosure activity continuing to run above pre-recession levels tend to be those with protracted foreclosure timelines still working through legacy distress from the last housing bust.”

According to RealtyTrac’s report, there were a total of 280,989 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in the second quarter of 2016, down 3% from the previous quarter, and down 18% from a year ago, to the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2006.

RealtyTrac’s report showed that nationwide foreclosure activity in the second quarter was actually still 21% above the pre-recession average of 232,082 properties with foreclosure filings per quarter in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

But RealtyTrac noted that Q2 2016 foreclosure activity was below pre-recession averages in 15 states, including Arizona (13% below pre-recession averages); California (25% below); Colorado (72% below); Georgia (33% below); Michigan (46% below); Nevada (18% below); Ohio (9% below); and Texas (46% below).

As Blomquist said, the news isn’t entirely positive for the country as a whole. There are some “outliers.”

While nationally, foreclosure starts were at a record low in the first half of the year, there were 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, where foreclosure starts increased.

According to RealtyTrac’s report, Connecticut (up 91%); Massachusetts (up 35%); Arizona (up 12%); Ohio (up 10%); and Virginia (up 6%) all posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure starts.

There were also a number of states, 19 to be exact, that saw increases in total foreclosure activity, including Massachusetts (up 46%); Connecticut (up 40%); Virginia (up 18%); Alabama (up 11%); and New York (up 10%).

Additionally, RealtyTrac’s report also showed completed foreclosures were down in the first half of 2016, but are still up significantly over the pre-crisis days.

According to RealtyTrac’s report, lenders foreclosed on 197,425 properties in the first half of 2016, down 6% from a year ago, but still 48% above the pre-recession average of 133,391 per half-year.

Counter to the national trend, 26 states and the District of Columbia posted a year-over-year increase in completed foreclosures in the first half of 2016, including Alabama (up 73%); New York (up 65%); New Jersey (up 56%); Massachusetts (up 43%); and Virginia up 37%). 

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