Foreclosures Fall To 5-Year Low

Foreclosures April 2012

Foreclosures filings fell 5 percent between March and April of this year, and by 11 percent as compared to one year ago. The data comes from RealtyTrac. The foreclosure-tracking firm tallied fewer than 189,000 foreclosure-related actions last month — the fewest number since July 2007.

Rapidly-declining foreclosure figures are another signal that the U.S. housing market may already be in recovery.

According to RealtyTrac’s methodology, a “foreclosure filing” is any one of the following foreclosure-related events : (1) A default notice on a home; (2) A scheduled auction for a home; or, (3) A bank repossession of a home.

All three showed improvement in April :

  • Default Notices were down 4% from March 2012
  • Scheduled Auctions were down 4% from March 2012
  • Bank Repossessions were down 7% from March 2012

Furthermore, April’s bank repossessions figure is notable. With just 51,415 homes reclaimed by banks, last month’s total represents a 26 percent drop from April 2011, and is the 18th consecutive month during which bank repossessions fell. This figure suggests that banks are seeking alternatives to foreclosure, including loan modifications and short sales, when appropriate.

Indeed, the National Association of REALTORS® reports that 11 percent of April’s home resales were short sales.

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an experienced one, homes in various stages of foreclosure can be alluring. They’re readily available and often come cheap as compared to non-distressed properties. However, make sure to look beyond just the “list price”. Foreclosed homes are often sold as-is. This means that the property could be run-down or rife with defects that render it uninhabitable and/or un-lendable.  

If you plan to buy a foreclosed property , therefore, engage an experienced real estate professional. You can learn a lot about how foreclosures work by doing research on the internet, but when it comes to writing contracts and checking homes for defects, you’ll want an experienced agent on your side.

Nevada Relinquishes “Top Foreclosure State” Title

Foreclosures March 2012

According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings fell to 199,000 in March 2012, a 17 percent decrease from March 2011. Last month marks the first time since July 2007 that foreclosure filings numbered less than 200,000 on a monthly basis — a span of nearly 5 years.

The generic term “foreclosure filing” is used to group all types of foreclosure activity into a single reading. It includes default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions. 

As in most months, foreclosure density varied by region. 6 states accounted for more than half of the nation’s repossessed homes in March.

  • Florida : 13.6 percent of all bank repossessions
  • California : 12.0 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Georgia : 8.0 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Michigan : 7.5 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Arizona : 6.5 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Illinois : 6.4 percent of all bank repossessions

At the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota and Washington, D.C. were home to the fewest bank repossessions, with 0.03% and 0.02% of the national total, respectively.

Also noteworthy is that the RealtyTrac report revealed that Nevada relinquished its title as Top Foreclosure State after 62 consecutive top-ranking months. In March, 1 in every 301 Nevada homes received some form of a foreclosure filing. The March rate was a nation-topping 1 in 300 in neighboring Arizona.

For home buyers, today’s foreclosure market represents an interesting opportunity. 

Homes purchased while in the various stages of foreclosure can often be bought at lower prices relative to homes not in foreclosure. It’s one of the reasons why foreclosed homes now account for 20 percent of all home resales

However, don’t confuse less expensive for less costly.

Foreclosed homes are often sold “as-is” and may be in various stages of disrepair. Fixing a foreclosed home to make it habitable could wipe out the money saved on its price tag. Your best real estate “deal”, therefore, may be a non-distressed home in sound, move-in ready condition.

If you’re buying foreclosures — or even considering it — be sure to talk with a real estate agent first. The process of buying a foreclosed property is different from buying a “regular” home. You’ll want somebody experienced on your team.

Foreclosure Volume Slated To Rise This Spring

Foreclosure increases by state Feb 2012

After a series of months during which foreclosure volume was low, total filings have started to rise again, says RealtyTrac. 

In February, 21 states posted a year-over-year increase in monthly foreclosure filings, according to the national foreclosure-tracking firm. This is nearly twice as many states as compared to December 2011, marking the highest monthly reading since November 2010.

A “foreclosure filing” is defined to include any one of the following foreclosure-related events : (1) The serving of a default notice, (2) A scheduled home auction, or (3) A bank repossession.

Nationally, the number of foreclosure filings fell 2 percent from January. However, it’s a trend that may reverse. Foreclosure volume is expected to rise over the next few months.

This is because the $25 billion mortgage servicer settlement provides a framework for servicers to execute necessary foreclosures, from notice-to-auction. Some analysts believe that foreclosure filings were artificially depressed in 2011 because of the absence of such guidance. 

Like all things in real estate, though, foreclosures remain local.

For example, nationally, there was one foreclosure for every 637 housing units. On a state-by-state basis, however, the results looked different.  

  • Nevada : 1 foreclosure for every 278 housing units
  • California : 1 foreclosure for every 283 housing units
  • Arizona : 1 foreclosure for every 312 housing units
  • Georgia : 1 foreclosure for every 331 housing units
  • Florida : 1 foreclosure for every 341 housing units

Even on a city-by-city level, foreclosure concentration varied. Figures from several select cities include : 

  • Atlanta : 1 foreclosure for every 244 housing units
  • Chicago : 1 foreclosure for every 302 housing units
  • New York : 1 foreclosure for every 3,439 housing units
  • Seattle : 1 foreclosure for every 1,229 housing units
  • Washington : 1 foreclosure for every 1,198 housing units

One reason why foreclosure concentration is worth tracking is because homes in various stage of foreclosure are often sold at deep discounts as compared to similar, non-distressed homes. It’s no wonder foreclosed homes are in high demand among today’s home buyers. 

However, if you plan to buy a foreclosure , be sure to work with an experienced real estate agent. Foreclosed homes are often sold “as-is”, and may be defective at best and uninhabitable at worst. It makes good sense to have an advocate on your side to help with contracts and inspections.

Foreclosure Filings Down 19 Percent In One Year

Foreclosures Per Capita January 2012 

Foreclosure filings fell 19 percent last month versus one year ago, says foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac. It’s yet one more signal that the U.S. housing market may have already climbed off its bottom.

According to RealtyTrac, a “foreclosure filing” is any one of the following foreclosure-related events : (1) A default notice on a home; (2) A scheduled auction for a home; or, (3) A bank repossession of a home.

In looking at the January 2012 figures :

  • Default Notices were down 22% from January 2011
  • Scheduled Auctions were down 19% from January 2011
  • Bank Repossessions were down 15% from January 2011

On a monthly basis, however, the numbers weren’t so promising.

Default notices and scheduled auctions were mostly unchanged, but bank repossessions rose 8 percent. The rise in bank repossessions is likely because 2010’s robo-signing controversy has been rectified at the state and lender level.

This trend toward more bank-owned homes is expected to continue through 2012.

As in most months, January’s foreclosure activity was geographically concentrated. Nevada led the nation in Foreclosures Per Capita, followed closely by California. 13 states fared worse than the national average of 1 foreclosure per 624 households. 37 fared better.

The difference in foreclosure frequency among the two groupings was stark :

  • Top 13 Foreclosure States : 1 foreclosure per 435 households, on average
  • Bottom 37 Foreclosure States : 1 foreclosure per 5,101 households, on average

North Dakota had January’s lowest foreclosure rate nationwide. Just 1 in 63,500 homes was in some form of foreclosure in North Dakota last month.

As a first-time or seasoned buyer , foreclosed homes can be enticing. They’re plentiful and cheap. However, just because a foreclosed home can be bought for a “steal”, that doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. The process of buying a foreclosed homes is different from the process of buying a non-foreclosed home.

The contract-and-negotiation process may be different with a foreclosed property, and foreclosed homes are often sold “as-is”. This means the home you buy at auction could be run-down and defective to the point where it’s uninhabitable.

If you plan to buy a foreclosed home, therefore, have a real estate professional on your side. The internet can teach you much about how the housing market works, but when it comes to writing contracts, you’ll want an experienced agent on your side.

Foreclosure Filings Fall To 49-Month Low

Annual Foreclosure Change, Top 10 States, December 2011

Foreclosure filings are fewer these days, according to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac.

In December 2011, the number of foreclosure filings nationwide fell 9 percent from the month prior. Not since November 2007 has foreclosure activity been this sparse across the country.

The drop does not appear to be seasonal, either. 

Last month’s foreclosure filings were down 20 percent from December 2010 with “foreclosure filing” defined to include any one of the following foreclosure-related events : (1) The serving of a default notice, (2) A scheduled home auction, or (3) A bank repossession. As a result of a unexpectedly strong year-end, 2011’s annual foreclosure rate was the lowest in 4 years.

One reason why the year may have closed so strongly is that Nevada, California, Michigan and Arizona — four states typically associated with high rates of foreclosures — each posted big drops in foreclosure filings between November and December, plus double-digit drops between December 2010 and December 2011.  

In fact, among the country’s top 10 states for foreclosure activity, nine showed an annual foreclosure filing reduction.

Only Delaware worsened.

It’s also noteworthy that just 4 states accounted for half of last month’s total foreclosure filings.

  • California : 25.8 percent of all foreclosure filings
  • Florida : 12.0 percent of all foreclosure filings
  • Michigan : 6.4 percent of all foreclosure filings
  • Illinois : 6.2 percent of all foreclosure filings

Foreclosures are heavily concentrated, in other words. By contrast, the last 1% of activity is spread across 14 states.

As a home buyer — first-timer or investor — foreclosures can be a great way to find value.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, distressed homes typically sell at “deep discounts” as compared to like, non-distressed homes. However, when you buy a foreclosure home from a bank, it’s different from buying a home from a “person”. Purchase contract negotiations are different and months may pass before your closing is approved.

If you’re buying foreclosure, therefore, seek the help of a professional real estate agent. Real estate agents have experience working in the process-heavy world of foreclosures and can help you come out ahead.

Bank Repossessions Drop To A 44-Month Low

Foreclosure concentration November 2011Foreclosure activity continues to concentrate over just a few states.

According to foreclosure-tracker RealtyTrac, November’s foreclosure filings fell 3 percent as compared to October, and 14 percent from November 2010.

“Foreclosure filing” is a catch-all term for the various “action steps” throughout the foreclosure process. The grouping comprises default notices, scheduled home auctions, and bank repossessions.

As in most months, though, foreclosure activity remains concentrated by state. More than half of last month’s bank repossessions can be traced to just 6 states.

  1. California : 14.8% of all bank repossessions
  2. Florida : 12.7% of all bank repossessions
  3. Texas : 7.0% of all bank repossessions
  4. Georgia : 6.9% of all bank repossessions
  5. Arizona : 6.7% of all bank repossessions
  6. Michigan : 6.3% of all bank repossessions

Meanwhile, with just 5 repossessions, South Dakota topped the list of states with the fewest bank repossessions in November. The Mount Rushmore State accounted for just 0.009% of REO nationwide in a month in which bank repossessions dropped to a 44-month low point across the United States.

The drop in REO is coming at a tough time for today’s home buyers. Distressed properties are in high demand — mostly because they sell at steep discounts.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, distressed homes accounted for 28 percent of all home sales in October. As fewer bank-owned homes become available, though, there will be fewer “deals” to be had.

Especially as the broader housing market continues to signal its recovery.

If you plan to buy a bank-owned foreclosed property, do your research first. As supplies drop, the price for foreclosed homes relative to non-distressed homes may rise, rendering REO properties less of a relative “value”.

Before you write a contract, therefore, talk with a licensed real estate agent. There’s plenty of foreclosure data available online but, when it’s time to buy, you should have an experienced agent on your side.

Foreclosure Filings Climbing; 4 States Account For Half Of Nationwide Activity

Foreclosures per capita October 2011

Foreclosed homes are a hot market — and supplies are ramping up.

According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, October’s foreclosure filings rose 7 percent to 231,000 filings nationwide.

A “foreclosure filing” is any one of the following foreclosure-related events : A default notice on a home; a scheduled auction for a home; or, a bank repossession of a home. Because of this definition, a single home can account for up to 3 foreclosure filings — one from each category. 

Because of this, we may glean more relevant insight into the foreclosure market by separating RealtyTrac’s foreclosure report into “event types”.

  • Default Notices : Up 10% from September 2011; Down 31% from October 2010.
  • Scheduled Auctions : Up 8% from September 2011; Down 38% from October 2010.
  • Bank Repossessions : Up 4% from September 2011; Down 27% from October 2010.

These breakdowns suggest that, although improved as compared to last year, the foreclosure market is growing. At least, it’s growing in some parts of the country. We can’t forget that — like everything real estate — foreclosures are a local phenomenon. 

In October, just 4 states accounted for more than half of the country’s foreclosure filings. Those four states — California, Florida, Michigan and Illinois — represent just 26% of the U.S. population.

Even on a per household basis, the figures remain disproportionate :

  • Top 10 Foreclosure States : 1 foreclosure per 341 households, on average
  • Bottom 10 Foreclosure States : 1 foreclosure per 7,434 households, on average

The nationwide foreclosure rate was 1 foreclosure per 563 households.

As a home buyer, foreclosures are worth watching. They account for 18% of home resales nationwide and, in some markets, can be bought at steep discounts versus a comparable “non-distressed” home. That is part of their appeal, in fact.

But just because foreclosed properties can be a “deal”, it doesn’t mean you should rush to buy one. Buying a foreclosed home from a bank is different from buying a non-foreclosed home from a “person”. The contracts and negotiation process are different, and foreclosed homes are sometimes sold as-is.

“As-is” means “this home may have defects”.

Therefore, if you plan to buy a foreclosed home, talk with a real estate professional first. You can learn a lot about the housing market online, but with respect to writing an offer on a property, you’ll want an experienced agent on your side.