Foreclosure Activity Lowest in Five Years

by Houston Agent

Foreclosure activity was down nationally, but result varied considerably across the nation's local markets.

Foreclosure filings, which encompass default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, were the lowest in April in five years, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac.

The 188,780 filings for April were a 5 percent decline from March and a 14 percent drop from April 2011. Overall, one in every 698 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing in the month.

Brandon Moore, the CEO of RealtyTrac, said the declines may be deceptive, given the local nature of foreclosure markets.

“Rising foreclosure activity in many state and  local markets in April was masked at the national level by sizable decreases in  hard-hit foreclosure states like California, Arizona and Nevada,” Moore said. “Those three states, and several other non-judicial foreclosure states like them, more efficiently processed foreclosures last  year, resulting in fewer catch-up foreclosures this year.”

Indeed, the judicial/non-judicial divide has become increasingly marked, as foreclosure inventories continue to linger in certain markets. Just last week, Foreclosure-Response released its own foreclosure data with particular emphasis on the distinction.

In RealtyTrac’s data, foreclosure activity in the 26 judicial states was down 3 percent from March to April but up 15 percent from April 2011, with monthly activity falling in 14 of the states and yearly activity increasing in 15.

One area, however, with a relatively minor foreclosure presence is Houston, where the 2,741 filings in the month represented just 1 in every 842 households in the city. Filings are down 0.72 percent from March to April and 2.46 percent from April 2011.

J.J. Molaison, the manager of Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors’ Inner Loop office, said that has definitely been the scenario for her particular market.

“We don’t deal with many foreclosures in our area,” Molaison said. “There have been relatively few, and we’ve actually had a high level of sales activity recently.”

Foreclosure starts were similarly local-driven. Though nationally, starts were down 4 percent from march and 2 percent from April 2011, 26 states posted monthly increases and 27 year-over-year increases. States with the biggest annual  increases in foreclosure starts included New Jersey (180 percent), Utah (179  percent), Indiana (49 percent), Pennsylvania (44 percent), Florida (43  percent) and Michigan (42 percent).

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