ATTOM: Nearly Half of U.S. Markets at Pre-Recession Foreclosure Levels

ATTOM Data Solutions, Irvine, Calif., said first quarter foreclosure activity fell below pre-recession levels in nearly half of metro areas analyzed.

The company’s Q1/March U.S. Foreclosure Market Report said 102 of 216 metro areas saw foreclosure filings–default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions–below pre-recession levels. ATTOM reported 234,508 foreclosure filings in the first quarter, down by 11 percent from the fourth quarter and down by 19 percent from a year ago, to the lowest level since third quarter 2006. Filings also fell 16 percent below pre-recession averages of 278,912 between first quarter 2006 and third quarter 2007.

“U.S. foreclosure activity on a quarterly basis first dipped below pre-recession averages in the fourth quarter of last year, and this report shows that trend continuing for the second consecutive quarter,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions.

Local markets dropping below pre-recession levels continues to grow, up from 78 a year ago. Markets below pre-recession levels included Los Angeles (46 percent below); Dallas (73 percent below); Houston (52 percent below); Miami (44 percent below); and Atlanta (67 percent below). Other major markets with first quarter foreclosure activity below pre-recession averages were San Francisco, Riverside-San Bernardino in Southern California, Phoenix, Detroit and Seattle.

In 114 markets (53 percent), first quarter foreclosure activity levels were still above pre-recession averages, including New York (80 percent above); Chicago (9 percent above); Philadelphia (97 percent above); Washington, D.C. (64 percent above); and Boston (26 percent above).

The report showed 83,145 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings in March, up 1 percent from the previous month but down 24 percent from a year ago, the 18th consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in overall U.S. foreclosure activity.

ATTOM said 36,370 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in March, up 6 percent from the previous month but still down 24 percent from a year ago. March marked the second consecutive month with a month-over-month increase in foreclosure starts, but foreclosure starts were down on a year-over-year basis for the 21st consecutive month in March. Lenders completed the foreclosure process on 28,634 U.S. properties in March, down 4 percent from the previous month and down 15 percent from a year ago.

States with the highest foreclosure rates in March were New Jersey (one in every 497 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Maryland (one in every 820 housing units); Nevada (one in every 857 housing units); Delaware (one in every 858 housing units); and Illinois (one in every 863 housing units).

Among 216 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000, those with the highest foreclosure rates in March were Trenton, N.J. (one in every 355 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Atlantic City, N.J. (one in every 452 housing units); Philadelphia (one in every 577 housing units); Rockford, Ill. (one in every 631 housing units); and Peoria, Ill. (one in every 710 housing units).

Counter to the national trend, the District of Columbia and 12 states posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in March, including New Jersey (34 percent increase); Oklahoma (13 percent increase); Louisiana (7 percent increase); Connecticut (6 percent increase); and Arizona (6 percent increase).

Two of the 10 largest metro areas posted a year-over-year increase in foreclosure activity in March: Philadelphia (up 15 percent); and Phoenix (up 1 percent).