A total of 122,060 foreclosure filings – including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – were processed in March, an increase of 4% compared to February, according to RealtyTrac.
The increase was driven primarily by a jump in bank repossessions (REOs), the firm reports. There were 36,152 bank repossessions in March, an increase 49% from the previous month and up 25% from a year ago to reach a 17-month high.
Still, that's only about one-third of the 102,134 bank repossessions seen in September 2010, the peak month, the firm reports.
‘The 17-month high in bank repossessions in March corresponds to a 17-month high in scheduled foreclosures auctions in October,’ says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a release. ‘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.’
Looking at the first quarter, there were about 313,487 foreclosure filings, down 7% from the fourth quarter of 2014 and down 8% from the first quarter of 2014 to reach the lowest level since the first quarter of 2007, RealtyTrac reports.
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% from the previous quarter but still down 14% from a year ago.
There were about 152,147 foreclosure starts in the first quarter, down 11% from the previous quarter and down 8% from a year ago.
States that saw the highest number of foreclosures in the first quarter, compared to the first quarter of 2014, included Massachusetts (up 58%), Virginia (up 11%), Michigan (up 11%) and Illinois (up 8%).
States that saw the highest number of bank repossessions compared to the first quarter of 2014 included Ohio (up 54%), Maryland (up 39%), Missouri (up 34%), New Jersey (up 18%) and Illinois (up 16%).
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