One million foreclosures delayed to 2012 or later
Processing problems at the major mortgage servicers pushed up to 1 million foreclosure actions that should have taken place in 2011 into 2012 and beyond, according to RealtyTrac. Lenders issued a foreclosure filing on more than 1.1 million properties in the first half 2011, down 29% from the same period one year ago. More than 608,000 properties received a filing in the second quarter, down 32% from the same period last year. And foreclosures in June were down 29% from one year ago, the ninth straight month of yearly declines. "It would be nice to report that foreclosure activity is dropping as a result of improvements in the economy or the housing market," said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio. "Unfortunately, with unemployment rates inching back up, consumer confidence weak and home sales and prices continuing to languish, this doesn’t appear to be the case." Major servicers froze the foreclosure process late last year and are still in the middle of correcting mishandled documents. The servicers became the focal point of investigations from the 50 state attorneys general and have been forced into compliance with consent orders from regulators. Month-to-month, the process seems to be showing signs of life. In May, foreclosure activity spiked across certain states. And in June, foreclosure filings across the country increased 4% from the month before. But viewed on a quarterly or larger scale, the process continues to drag. The properties that completed the foreclosure process in the second quarter spent 318 days in the system on average, up from a revised 298 days in the first quarter and 277 days in the second quarter of 2010. REO properties that sold in the second quarter spent 178 days on the market from the time they were foreclosed, an uptick from 176 days in the first quarter and 164 days one year ago. In New York, REO properties took an average of 309 days to sell. "Processing and procedural delays are pushing foreclosures further and further out," Saccaccio said. "This casts an ominous shadow over the housing market, where recovery is unlikely to happen until the current and forthcoming inventory of distressed properties can be whittled down to a manageable number." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.