RealtyTrac has released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for February 2012, which shows foreclosure filings—default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions—were reported on 206,900 U.S. properties in February, a two percent decrease from the previous month and an eight percent drop from February 2011—the lowest annual decrease since October 2010. The report also shows one in every 637 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.
“February’s numbers point to a gradually rising foreclosure tide as some of the barriers that have been holding back foreclosures are removed,” said Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “Although national foreclosure activity was pushed lower by decreases in a handful of larger states, 21 states posted annual increases in foreclosure activity, the most states with annual increases since November 2010.
February foreclosure activity in the 26 states with a judicial foreclosure process increased two percent from January and was up 24 percent from February 2011, while activity in the 24 states with a non-judicial foreclosure process decreased 5 percent from January and was down 23 percent from February 2011.
“The foreclosure and mortgage settlement filed in court earlier this week will help pave the way to a properly functioning foreclosure process by providing a clear roadmap for necessary foreclosures,” Moore said. “That should result in more states posting annual increases in the coming months. Not surprisingly, many of the biggest annual increases in February were in states with the more bureaucratic judicial foreclosure process, which resulted in a larger backlog of foreclosures built up over the last 18 months in those states.”
Ten of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas by population documented year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in February, led by the Florida cities of Tampa (64 percent increase) and Miami (53 percent increase). The 10 metro areas with increases were all on the East Coast or in the Midwest, while most of the metro areas with year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity were in the West, led by Seattle (59 percent decrease) and Phoenix (43 percent decrease). The metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates among the 20 largest were Riverside-San Bernardino in California (one in 166 housing units), Atlanta (one in 244), Phoenix (one in 259), Miami (one in 264) and Chicago (one in 302).
Default notices (NOD, LIS) were filed for the first time on a total of 58,886 U.S. properties in February, up one percent from the previous month but still down seven percent from February 2011. Default notices increased at least 20 percent on a year-over-year basis in a dozen states, all states primarily employing a judicial or quasi-judicial foreclosure process. Those states included Hawaii (321 percent increase), Maryland (157 percent increase), Connecticut (64 percent increase), South Carolina (58 percent increase), Indiana (37 percent increase), Pennsylvania (35 percent increase), Florida (33 percent increase), and Massachusetts (20 percent increase).
Default notices were still down on a year-over-year basis in several states, including Nevada (89 percent decrease), Michigan (72 percent decrease), New York (44 percent decrease), Iowa (28 percent decrease), Kentucky (25 percent decrease), and California (11 percent decrease). State legislation impacted the default numbers in Nevada, where a law requiring lenders to file an extra affidavit before initiating the foreclosure process took effect in October 2011, and in Michigan, where a 2009 law that required notices of default to be publicly recorded recently expired. In addition, state attorneys general in New York, California and Nevada have filed lawsuits against major lenders in recent months.
Foreclosure auctions were scheduled for the first time on 84,180 U.S. properties in February, down two percent from January and down 13 percent from February 2011. Scheduled auctions increased at least 25 percent on a year-over-year basis in 13 states, including Kentucky (190 percent increase), Illinois (170 percent increase), Iowa (98 percent increase), Pennsylvania (95 percent increase), Indiana (92 percent increase), Minnesota (88 percent increase), Maryland (66 percent increase), South Carolina (27 percent increase), and Oklahoma (25 percent increase).
Real estate-owned (REO) properties comprised a total of 63,834 U.S. properties in February, a four percent decrease from January and down one percent from February 2011. REO activity increased at least 20 percent on a year-over-year basis in 17 states, including Massachusetts (114 percent increase), North Carolina (95 percent increase), Florida (90 percent increase), South Carolina (87 percent increase), Georgia (76 percent increase), Connecticut (66 percent increase), New York (48 percent increase), and Illinois (42 percent increase).
Foreclosure activity in Nevada reached a 58-month low in February, but the state still posted the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the 62nd straight month. One in every 278 Nevada housing units had a foreclosure filing during the month, more than twice the national average. California posted the nation’s second highest state foreclosure rate in February although the state’s foreclosure activity hit a 51-month low. A total of 48,422 California properties had a foreclosure filing during the month, one in every 283 housing units. Arizona foreclosure activity increased on a monthly basis for the second month in a row boosted by a 33 percent jump in scheduled foreclosure auctions. One in every 312 Arizona housing units had a foreclosure filing during the month, the nation’s third highest state foreclosure rate. One in every 331 Georgia housing units had a foreclosure filing in February, the nation’s fourth highest state foreclosure rate, and one in every 341 Florida housing units had a foreclosure filing during the month, the nation’s fifth highest state foreclosure rate. Florida default notices increased on a year-over-year basis for the fourth straight month in February, and overall Florida foreclosure activity was up on an annual basis for the second straight month.
Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 were Illinois (one in 398 housing units), Michigan (one in 433), South Carolina (one in 489), Ohio (one in 543) and Wisconsin (one in 596).