The pace of foreclosure activity continued to decline at the end of 2012, pushing the nation's foreclosure inventory down 19.5% from a year earlier, according to a new report from CoreLogic.
In December, 1.2 million homes landed in the national foreclosure inventory, down from 1.5 million homes a year earlier, CoreLogic said.
Just from November, the nation's foreclosure inventory slipped 4.2%.
Foreclosure inventory, as measured by CoreLogic, is the share of all mortgaged homes in any stage of the foreclosure process.
The pace of foreclosures also slowed year-over-year, dropping 21% to 56,000 completed foreclosures in December, compared to 71,000 a year earlier and down 3% from 58,000 in November. Overall, the nation recorded 767,000 completed foreclosures in 2012.
Before the housing crisis, a healthy real estate economy averaged 21,000 foreclosures per month, which is still substantially lower than the most recent December figures. But CoreLogic found a silver lining in the numbers.
"The most encouraging foreclosure trend reported here is that the inventory of foreclosed properties is almost 20% smaller than a year ago," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "This big improvement indicates we are working toward resolving the backlog of the most distressed assets in the shadow inventory."
"The rate of foreclosures continues to trend down, albeit at a slower rate as we exit 2012," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.