First Quarter U.S. Foreclosure Activity Drops to Lowest Level in Eight Years Despite March Increase

Annual Increase in March First Since September 2010 Thanks to Jump in REOs;
Highest State Foreclosure Rates in Florida, Maryland, Nevada, Illinois, New Jersey

 
IRVINE, Calif. – April 16, 2015 — RealtyTrac® (www.realtytrac.com), the nation’s leading source for comprehensive housing data, today released its Q1 and March 2015 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™, which shows foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 313,487 U.S. properties in the first quarter of 2015, down 7 percent from the previous quarter and down 8 percent from the first quarter of 2014 to the lowest quarterly total since the first quarter of 2007.

There were a total of 122,060 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in March, a 20 percent jump from a 104-month low in February and up 4 percent from a year ago — the first month with a year-over-year increase in overall foreclosure activity since September 2010.

The increase in March was driven primarily by a jump in bank repossessions (REOs), which at 36,152 were up 49 percent from the previous month and up 25 percent from a year ago to a 17-month high — although still about one-third of the 102,134 REOs in September 2010, the peak month for REOs.

“The 17-month high in bank repossessions in March corresponds to a 17-month high in scheduled foreclosures auctions in October,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “The March increase is continued cleanup of distress still lingering from the previous housing crisis; not the beginning of a new crisis by any means. Some of the most stubborn foreclosure cases are finally being flushed out of the foreclosure pipeline, and we would expect to see more noise in the numbers over the next few months as national foreclosure activity makes its way back to more stable patterns by the end of this year.”

Despite the spike in March, bank repossessions in the first quarter were still down from a year ago. Lenders repossessed 82,081 properties during the quarter, up 7 percent from the previous quarter but still down 14 percent from a year ago.

A total of 152,147 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time in the first quarter of 2015, down 11 percent from the previous quarter and down 8 percent from a year ago.

Other high-level findings from the report:

  • States where first quarter foreclosure starts increased from a year ago, counter to the national trend, included Massachusetts (up 58 percent), Virginia (up 11 percent), Michigan (up 11 percent), and Illinois (up 8 percent).
  • States where first quarter bank repossessions (REO) increased from a year ago, counter to the national trend, included Ohio (up 54 percent), Maryland (up 39 percent), Missouri (up 34 percent), New Jersey (up 18 percent), and Illinois (up 16 percent).
  • States with the highest foreclosure rates in the first quarter were Florida, Maryland, Nevada, Illinois, and New Jersey.
  • Among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more, those with the highest foreclosure rates were Atlantic City, New Jersey, Rockford, Illinois, Ocala, Florida, Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida, and Miami, Florida.
  • A total of 53,514 properties started the foreclosure process in March, up 11 percent from the previous month but still down 4 percent from a year ago.
  • A total of 50,760 properties were scheduled for foreclosure auction in March, up 11 percent from the previous month and up less than 1 percent from a year ago.
  • Properties that completed the foreclosure process in the first quarter took an average of 620 days to complete the foreclosure process, up from 604 days on average in the previous quarter and up from 572 days in the first quarter of 2014.
  • States with the longest average days to complete foreclosure for foreclosures completed in the first quarter were New York (1,475 days), New Jersey (1,115 days), Hawaii (1,058 days), Florida (975 days), and Kansas (963 days).

Local broker perspectives

“We continue to see a steep decline in foreclosure properties in Seattle,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. “As a result, many first time buyers who once looked to foreclosures as an affordable entry point into home ownership are being forced to buy in outlining areas where homes are less expensive or consider buying a condo or townhome.”

“Although they are dwindling, the REO opportunities are not gone yet; for the astute investors and buyers, there are still some REO and distressed opportunities in the South Florida market,” said Mike Pappas, CEO and president of the Keyes Company, covering the South Florida market.  “This is as healthy a market as we have seen since the boom. We wrote $400 million in real estate contracts during the quarter, which was the second strongest March in our 89-year history with only March 2005 beating these numbers.”

“During the first quarter of 2015, most areas of Ohio have noticed a decrease in foreclosure activity, as compared to the same timeframe of 2014, said Michael Mahon, executive vice president at HER Realtors, covering the Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus markets in Ohio. “Growing employment numbers, growth in housing units sold, as well as growth in appreciation of home prices across Ohio continue to reflect a housing market in balance.”

Report methodology

The RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report provides a count of the total number of properties with at least one foreclosure filing entered into the RealtyTrac database during the month — broken out by type of filing. Some foreclosure filings entered into the database during the month may have been recorded in previous months. Data is collected from more than 2,500 counties nationwide using a combination of public record and proprietary sources, and those counties account for more than 90 percent of the U.S. population. RealtyTrac’s report incorporates documents filed in all three phases of foreclosure: Default — Notice of Default (NOD) and Lis Pendens (LIS); Auction — Notice of Trustee’s Sale and Notice of Foreclosure Sale (NTS and NFS); and Real Estate Owned, or REO properties (that have been foreclosed on and repurchased by a bank). The report does not count a property again if it receives the same type of foreclosure filing multiple times within the estimated foreclosure timeframe for the state where the property is located. 

Report License                                                                                                     

The RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report is the result of a proprietary evaluation of information compiled by RealtyTrac; the report and any of the information in whole or in part can only be quoted, copied, published, re-published, distributed and/or re-distributed or used in any manner if the user specifically references RealtyTrac as the source for said report and/or any of the information set forth within the report. 

Data Licensing and Custom Report Order

Investors, businesses and government institutions can contact RealtyTrac to license bulk foreclosure and neighborhood data or purchase customized reports. For more information please contact our Data Licensing Department at 800.462.5193 or datasales@realtytrac.com. 

About RealtyTrac

RealtyTrac is a leading supplier of U.S. real estate data, with nationwide parcel-level records for more than 130 million U.S. parcels that include property characteristics, tax assessor data, sales and mortgage deed records, default, foreclosure, auction, and Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) along with more than 45 key local and neighborhood dynamics for residential properties nationwide via its subsidiary, Homefacts.com.  RealtyTrac’s housing data is relied on by the Federal Reserve, U.S. Treasury Department, HUD, numerous state housing and banking departments, investment funds as well as millions of real estate professionals and consumers, to help evaluate housing trends and make informed decisions about real estate. 

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Von Pohlmann
949.502.8300, ext. 139
jennifer.vonpohlmann@realtytrac.com

Ginny Walker
949.502.8300, ext. 268
ginny.walker@realtytrac.com 

Data and Report Licensing:
800.462.5193
datasales@realtytrac.com

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