Foreclosure filings were reported on 572,928 U.S. properties during the first quarter of this year, according to new data from RealtyTrac. This is down 2% from the previous quarter and down 16% from the first quarter of 2011.
The first-quarter total was the lowest quarterly total since the fourth quarter of 2007, when 527,740 properties with foreclosure filings were reported. The report shows one in every 230 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the quarter.
Foreclosure filings were reported on 198,853 U.S. properties in March, a 4% decrease from February and a 17% decrease from March 2011. March'ss total was the lowest monthly total since July 2007, and also the first monthly total below 200,000 since July 2007.
‘The low foreclosure numbers in the first quarter are not an indication that the massive reservoir of distressed properties built up over the past few years has somehow miraculously evaporated,’ says Brandon Moore, CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac. ‘There are hairline cracks in the dam, evident in the sizable foreclosure activity increases in judicial foreclosure states over the past several months, along with an increase in foreclosure starts in many judicial and nonjudicial states in March. The dam may not burst in the next 30 to 45 days, but it will eventually burst, and everyone downstream should be prepared for that to happen – both in terms of new foreclosure activity and new short sale activity.’
RealtyTrac attributes the nationwide decrease in foreclosure activity to decreasing activity in states that use the nonjudicial foreclosure process. These 24 states combined, along with the District of Columbia, had 329,854 properties with foreclosure filings during the quarter, more than half the national total – but a decrease of 8% from the previous quarter and a decrease of 28% from the first quarter of 2011. Twenty nonjudicial states registered year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity, led by Arkansas with a 79% drop and Nevada with a 62% drop.
Meanwhile, foreclosure activity increased in states that primarily use the judicial foreclosure process. These 26 states combined accounted for 243,074 properties with foreclosure filings during the quarter, an increase of 8% from the previous quarter and an increase of 10% from the first quarter of 2011.
Judicial states posting some of the biggest year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in the first quarter included Indiana (up 45%), Connecticut (up 38%), Massachusetts (up 26%), Florida (up 26%) and South Carolina (up 26%).
First-time foreclosure starts increased 7% from February to March, the third straight monthly increase. Foreclosure starts in March exceeded 100,000 for the first time since November 2011, although they were still down 11% from March 2011.Thirty-one states posted monthly increases in foreclosure starts in March.
Nevada foreclosure activity decreased 26% from the previous quarter and was down 62% from the first quarter of 2011, but the state still posted the nation's top foreclosure rate – one in every 95 Nevada housing units had a foreclosure filing during the first quarter. Although Nevada had the top foreclosure rate for the quarter, the state's foreclosure rate slipped to second highest among the states in March, after 62 consecutive months in the No.1 spot. Arizona's foreclosure rate was the nation's highest state foreclosure rate in March.