Foreclosure Totals Down, Foreclosure Starts Up in Q1 2012

by Houston Agent

Though foreclosure filings were down in the first quarter, some analysts are unconvinced by the data's current trend.

Foreclosure activity was down in the latest foreclosure report from RealtyTrac, which covered foreclosure filings, default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions for the first quarter of 2012.

The total properties in these catergories is reported to be 572,928 properties during the quarter. That number is down 2 percent from the previous quarter and down 16 percent from the first quarter of 2011.

According to the report the first quarter total was the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2007, and RealtyTrac’s Chief Executive, Brandon Moore, said that despite the lower totals, the housing market is still in danger of future foreclosure activity.

“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,” Moore said. “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 non-judicial 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.”

Bill McBride, writing about the RealtyTrac data on his Calculated Risk blog, echoed Moore’s sentiments that the foreclosure markets will be interesting viewing over the next couple months, but he did not share the CEO’s doomsday scenario about filings.

“The mortgage settlement was just signed off last week, so we really have to wait until April or May to see the impact of the settlement,” McBride wrote. “Obviously RealtyTrac thinks the dam is about to burst and the market will be flooded again with foreclosures. My feeling is this will have more of an impact on the judicial states because of the huge backlog in those states.”

Other data from the report included: foreclosure starts have gone up 7 percent from February to March, the third consecutive monthly increase for the stat; starts in March exceeded 100,000 for the first time since November 2011, but they were down 11 percent from March 2011.

Texas is reported to have 8,228 foreclosure properties or one in every 1213 housing units. Texas totals are in the mid-range compared to other state totals with the national low being one in every 24,727 housing units.

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