The number of completed foreclosures fell 13% year-over-year in January, suggesting an overall slowdown in default activity, CoreLogic said Thursday.
The Santa Ana, Calif.-based analytics firm published its National Foreclosure Report, which shows 69,000 completed foreclosures in January 2012, up from 65,000 in December and down from 80,000 last year.
In the previous 12 months, the nation saw 860,128 completed foreclosures.
"We are encouraged by the noticeable progress we are seeing over the last several months in the mortgage industry," said Anand Nallathambi, chief executive officer of CoreLogic. "During the last several years the industry has faced enormous challenges working through difficult and complex issues. We are hopeful that these recent improvements are early signals of revitalization in the mortgage market."
The nation had 1.4 million homes, or 3.3% of all homes, in its foreclosure inventory during the month of January. That is unchanged from December, but down from 1.5 million homes a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the number of loans in the foreclosure inventory declined by 145,000 in January. Delinquency data also improved creating a dose of optimism for the market.
The percentage of borrowers who are more than 90-days late on their mortgages declined from 7.8% in January of last year to 7.2% this year.
Despite a slow down in completed foreclosures year-over-year, signs of new foreclosure activity are beginning to spark up.
“The pace of completed foreclosures is gradually increasing again, but the clearing ratio is falling as REO sales have slowed in the winter months," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "Judicial foreclosure states are continuing to process foreclosures more slowly than non-judicial foreclosure states. Non-judicial foreclosure states completed almost twice as many foreclosures per 1,000 active loans as judicial foreclosure states in January.”
States with the highest foreclosure rates included Florida (11.8% rate), New Jersey (6.4%), Illinois (5.3%), Nevada (5%) and New York (4.7%). States with the lowest rates include Wyoming (0.7%); Alaska (0.8%); North Dakota (0.8%); Nebraska (1.1%); and Texas (1.3%).
Since the start of the downturn in September 2008, approximately 3.3 million homes have gone through the foreclosure process.