Foreclosure activity increased 3 percent in January, but is still down 10 percent compared to a year ago in January 2011, according to the U.S. Foreclosure Market Reportreleased by RealtyTrac Thursday.
Foreclosure activity includes default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions. Nationwide, one in every 624 housing units had a foreclosure filing during January 2012.
“Although overall foreclosure activity was down from a year ago for the 16th straight month in January, we continue to see signs on a local and regional level that the frozen-up foreclosure process is beginning to thaw,” said Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac. “Foreclosure activity increased on a year-over-year basis for the first time in more than 12 months in Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania, following a pattern we saw in late 2011 in states such as California, Arizona and Massachusetts.”
Moore also said that the pattern of increasing foreclosure activity is expected in coming months, especially since the multi-state settlement set forth clears guidelines for lenders and servicers to follow when foreclosing. This, Moore said, should allow servicers to push delayed foreclosures from last year.
At the state and regional level, the situation can be more complicated.
Moore said roadblocks such as legislation to alter the foreclosure process and lawsuits against lenders can lead to uneven trends in local and regional foreclosure numbers.
Breakdown by foreclosure activity type
The total number of default notices filed was at 58,362 in January, remaining unchanged from the previous month, but down 22 percent from January 2011. States with the highest increase in default notices on a year-over-year basis included Pennsylvania (+112%), Maryland (+100%), Florida (36%), and Massachusetts (+27%), and Connecticut (+23%).
Foreclosure auctions were scheduled on 86,037 properties in January, up 1 percent from December, but down 20 percent from January 2011. Scheduled auctions increased significantly on a year-over-year basis in several states, including Illinois and Indiana (+141%), South Carolina (+79%), Massachusetts (+57%), and Minnesota (+24%).REO properties totaled 66,542 in January, an 8 percent increase from December, and a 15 percent decrease from January 2011. States that saw an increase in REOactivity on a year-over-year basis included Massachusetts (+75%), New Hampshire (+62%), Indiana (+60), Illinois (+52), and Connecticut (+39 percent).
States with the highest foreclosure rates
West coast states Nevada, California and Arizona had the highest foreclosure rates, with Nevada topping the list for the 61st month in a row, despite an 8 percent decrease in foreclosure activity compared to the previous month in December. While California’s foreclosure activity dropped, the state still has the nation’s second highest foreclosure rate. Arizona’s foreclosure activity increased 14 percent from the previous month. Year-over-year foreclosure activity dropped in all three states due to slow foreclosure starts. Trailing behind those states in foreclosure filings were Georgia and Michigan.
Nine out of 10 of the metropolitan areas, meaning areas with a population of 200,000 or more, with the highest foreclosure rates were found in California. Las Vegas was the exception at number five. The top four cities for foreclosure rates in California were Stockton, Modesto, Riverside-San Bernardino, and Vallejo-Fairfield.