Foreclosure starts rose in January suggesting the pipeline is starting to move, according to the latest mortgage monitor report from Lender Processing Services (LPS).
LPS said foreclosure starts in the first month of 2012 rose 28% from December but fell 11.5% from a year earlier. The data firm says 203,458 starts were recorded in January, compared to 230,023 in January 2011.
Repeat foreclosures hit an all-time high in January, representing 47% of all starts. LPS sees positive changes in the foreclosure pipeline, but says it's too soon to call it a trend.
"But it is a definite shift in that direction," a spokeswoman for the company said. "We could be seeing the beginning of something, and we should most certainly be keeping our eyes on this over the next few months."
Foreclosure starts in judicial states increased almost two times as much as in non-judicial states in January. And foreclosure sales in non-judicial states outpaced sales in judicial states by a 3-to-1 ratio.
Mortgage delinquencies in January fell 10.5% from a year earlier and 2.2% from December, with the delinquency rate hitting 7.97%. The January foreclosure rate hit 4.15%, up 1.1% from December and down a slightly from January 2011.
New loan originations hit 510,127, down 10.7% from December and 32.9% lower than last year. The seriously delinquent loan rate hit 7.69% last month, down 6.8% from January 2011 and mostly flat from December.
When looking at new problem loans, the ratio of troubled mortgages is relatively low nationally at a 1.4% rate, but pockets of trouble still remain.
The states with the most seriously delinquent home loans in January included Nevada, Florida, Mississippi, Arizona and Georgia.
Nationwide more than 40% of loans in foreclosure are more than two years past due.
LPS estimates that refinance opportunities under the new HARP 2.0 are possible for 27.6 million borrowers, but only 6.8 million are probable.