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Sixty-Plus Markets See Year-to-Year Drop in Foreclosure Rates

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CoreLogic has released its National Foreclosure Report for February, which provides monthly data on completed foreclosures, foreclosure inventory and 90-plus-day delinquency rates. There were approximately 65,000 completed foreclosures in February 2012, compared to 66,000 in February 2011, and 71,000 in January 2012. The number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in February was 862,000. From the start of the financial crisis in September 2008, there have been approximately 3.4 million completed foreclosures.

Approximately 1.4 million homes, or 3.4 percent of all homes with a mortgage, were in the foreclosure inventory as of February 2012 compared to 1.5 million, or 3.6 percent, in February 2011 and 1.4 million, or 3.4 percent, in January 2012. Nationally, the number of borrowers in the foreclosure inventory decreased by 115,000, a decline of 7.6 percent, in February 2012 compared to February 2011.

"The pace of completed foreclosures is down slightly compared to January, running at an annualized pace of 670,000, but compares favorably to the pace of completed foreclosures in February a year ago. Even though the pace of completed foreclosures has slowed, the overall foreclosure inventory is decreasing because REO sales were up in February,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “With the spring buying season upon us, the inventory may decline further as the pace of distressed-asset sales rises along with the rest of the housing market.”

“In February, more than 60 major markets saw a decrease in their foreclosure rates compared to a year ago,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive officer of CoreLogic. “This combined with faster REO-clearing rates, better employment news, and continued historically low interest rates are all positive signs of improvement in the housing economy.”

The share of borrowers nationally that were 90 or more days late on their mortgage payment fell to 7.3 percent in February 2012 from 7.8 percent in February 2011, but inched up from 7.2 percent in January 2012. At the same time, the inventory of real estate-owned (REO) assets held by servicers nationwide grew faster in February 2012 than the pace of REO sales, as measured by the distressed clearing ratio. The distressed clearing ratio is calculated by dividing the number of REO sales by the number of completed foreclosures; the higher the ratio, the faster the pace of REO sales relative to the pace of completed foreclosures. The distressed clearing ratio for February 2012 was 0.73, up from 0.66 in January 2012.

The five states with the largest number of completed foreclosures during the 12 months ending in February 2012 were: California (154,000), Florida (87,000), Michigan (64,000), Arizona (63,000) and Texas (58,000). These five states account for 49.4 percent of all completed foreclosures nationally. The five states with the highest foreclosure rates were: Florida (12.0 percent), New Jersey (6.6 percent), Illinois (5.4 percent), Nevada (5.0 percent) and New York (4.9 percent). Meanwhile, the five states with the lowest foreclosure rates were: Wyoming (0.7 percent), Alaska (0.8 percent), North Dakota (0.8 percent), Nebraska (1.0 percent) and Montana (1.4 percent).

The percentage of homeowners nationally who were more than 90 days late on their mortgage payments, including homes in foreclosure and REO, was 7.3 percent for February 2012 compared to 7.8 percent for February 2011, and 7.2 percent in January 2012.

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