RealtyTrac: Foreclosure Properties Down 3% to 9-Year Low

RealtyTrac, Irvine, Calif., reported foreclosure filings on 1.083 million U.S. properties in 2015, a 3 percent drop from 2014 and a 62 percent decline from their 2010 peak.  

The company’s Year-End 2015 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report said 2015 foreclosure filings represented the lowest annual total since 2006. The report said 0.82 percent of all U.S. housing units (one in every 122) had at least one foreclosure filing in 2015, the second consecutive year where the annual foreclosure rate fell below 1 percent of all U.S. housing units.  

Data for December show 103,373 properties with foreclosure filings, down 1 percent from November and down by 9 percent from a year ago, the third consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity. U.S. foreclosure starts in December fell by 30 percent from a year ago, the sixth consecutive month with an annual decrease in foreclosure starts, while U.S. bank repossessions in December increased by 65 percent from a year ago, the 10th consecutive monthly increase.  

“In 2015 we saw a return to normal, healthy foreclosure activity in many markets even as banks continued to clean up some of the last vestiges of distress left over from the last housing crisis,” said RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist. “The increase in bank repossessions that we saw for the year was evidence of this cleanup phase, which largely involves completing foreclosure on highly distressed, low value properties.  

However, the report noted foreclosure activity increases in 24 states and six of 20 largest metro areas from 2014, including Massachusetts (up 55 percent), Missouri (up 50 percent), Oklahoma (up 36 percent), New York (up 24 percent) and Texas (up 16 percent). Among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, Boston (up 44 percent); St. Louis (up 38 percent); Dallas (up 25 percent); Detroit (up 22 percent); New York (up 9 percent); and Houston (up less than 1 percent) posted higher foreclosure activity from 2014.  

Other report data:  

–569,835 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in 2015, down by 11 percent from 2014 and down 73 percent from the peak of more than 2.1 million foreclosure starts in 2009 to a 10-year low.

–However, foreclosure starts increased in 16 states, including Oklahoma (up 92 percent), Massachusetts (up 67 percent), Missouri (up 28 percent), Virginia (up 23 percent), Nevada (up 14 percent), and Arkansas (up 14 percent).

–Bank repossessions rose in 2015 following four consecutive down years. RealtyTrac reported 449,900 U.S. properties repossessed by lenders in 2015, up 38 percent from 2014 but still 57 percent below the peak of nearly 1.1 million bank repossessions in 2010.

–Bank repossessions increased from a year ago in 41 states and the District of Columbia, particularly in New Jersey (up 226 percent), New York (up 194 percent), Texas (up 115 percent), North Carolina (up 108 percent), and Oregon (up 96 percent).

–States with the highest foreclosure rates in 2015 were New Jersey (1.91 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Florida (1.77 percent); Maryland (1.60 percent); Nevada (1.40 percent); and Illinois (1.26 percent).

–Metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in 2015 were Atlantic City, N.J. (3.43 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Trenton, N.J. (2.14 percent); Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (2.03 percent); Jacksonville, Fla. (2.02 percent); and Miami (1.98 percent).

–U.S. properties foreclosed in the fourth quarter had been in the foreclosure process an average of 629 days, down slightly from 630 days in the third quarter but still up 4 percent from the average 604 days in the fourth quarter of 2014.

–Six states had an average time to foreclose of more than 1,000 days: New Jersey (1,180 days), Utah (1,128 days), Hawaii (1,106 days), New Mexico (1,079 days), Florida (1,025 days) and New York (1,010 days). States with the shortest average time to foreclose in the fourth quarter were South Dakota (105 days), North Carolina (151 days), Virginia (225 days), Wyoming (263 days) and Texas (266 days).