The inventory of properties in the foreclosure process expanded by nearly 10 percent in the first quarter, casting a pall over the housing recovery as local markets prepare for more foreclosures than expected. However, a high level of demand driving by investor activity may mitigate their impact.
RealtyTrac® today said nearly 1.5 million U.S. properties were actively in the foreclosure process or bank-owned (REO) in the first quarter of 2013, up 9 percent from the first quarter of 2012 but still down 32 percent from the peak of 2.2 million in December 2010.
“Delinquent loans that fell into a deep sleep after the robo-signing controversy in late 2010 are gradually coming out of hibernation following the finalization of the national mortgage settlement in April 2012,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “The settlement provided some closure regarding accepted foreclosure processing practices, and as a result lenders have been reviving more of these delinquent loans and pushing them into foreclosure over the past 12 months, particularly in states where a lengthy court process has resulted in a bigger backlog of non-performing loans still in snooze mode.”
Though overall inventories are up, completed inventories are still declining. CoreLogic reported today that there were 54,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in February 2013, down from 67,000 in February 2012, a year-over-year decrease of 19 percent. On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures fell from 58,000* in January 2013 to the February level of 54,000, a decrease of 7 percent.
As a basis of comparison, prior to the decline in the housing market in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006. Completed foreclosures are an indication of the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been approximately 4.2 million completed foreclosures across the country.