US home foreclosures continuing to fall, latest data shows
Foreclosures in the United States are continuing to decline with the latest data showing they fell 30% in December year on year, the sixth consecutive month with an annual decrease in foreclosure starts.
However, the figures from real estate data firm RealtyTrac also shows that bank repossessions (REOs) in December increased 65% from a year ago, the 10thconsecutive month with an annual increase in REOs.
‘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 Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.
‘The increase in bank repossessions that we saw for the year was evidence of this clean up phase, which largely involves completing foreclosure on highly distressed, low value properties,’ he explained.
‘Meanwhile, local economic problems became a larger driver of foreclosure activity in 2015 Examples of this are Atlantic City, New Jersey, which posted the nation’s highest metro foreclosure rate for the year, along with several heavy oil-producing markets in Texas and Oklahoma where foreclosure activity increased in 2015, counter to the national trend,’ he added.
Counter to the national trend, 24 states and the District of Columbia posted an increase in foreclosure activity in 2015 compared to 2014, including Massachusetts up 55%, Missouri up 50%, Oklahoma up 36%, New York up 24% and Texas up 16%.
Among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, six posted year on year increases in foreclosure activity in 2015. In Boson they were up 44%, up 38% in St. Louis, up 25% in Dallas, up 22% in Detroit, up 9% in New York and up less than 1% in Houston.
A total of 569,835 properties started the foreclosure process in 2015, down 11% from 2014 and down 73% from the peak of more than 2.1 million foreclosure starts in 2009 to a 10 year low.
Bucking the national trend, foreclosure starts increased in 2015 in 16 states, including Oklahoma up 92%, Massachusetts up 67%, Missouri up 28%, Virginia up 23%, Nevada up 14% and Arkansas up 14%.
A total of 449,900 properties were repossessed by lenders in 2015, up 38% from 2014 but still 57% below the peak of nearly 1.1 million bank repossessions (REOs) in 2010.
The median price of a bank owned home in 2015 was 41% below the median price of all homes, the biggest bank owned discount nationwide since 2006. ‘That may be surprising to some, but demonstrates that in a healthy real estate market foreclosures are no longer mainstream, but instead are back to being a market niche of properties with problems that many buyers do not want to tackle,’ said Blomquist.
Bank repossessions (REOs) increased from a year ago in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Some of the biggest increases were in New Jersey which was up 226%, New York up 194%, Texas up 115%, North Carolina up 108%, and Oregon up 96%.
Foreclosures in the Seattle area are trending downward at a much faster pace than the rest of our state and the nation as a whole, according to Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate.
‘This is not all that surprising given Seattle’s robust economy and thriving housing market. Also not surprising is that home repossessions by lenders rose precipitously in 2015. I expect this number to remain somewhat volatile throughout 2016, and likely into 2017, as banks continue to work through their backlog of foreclosures. This is an indication that at long last we are working through the tail end of the 2008 housing market crisis,’ he said.
States with the highest foreclosure rates in 2015 were New Jersey with 1.91% of housing units with a foreclosure filing, Florida with 1.77%, Maryland with 1.6%, Nevada with 1.4% and Illinois with 1.26%.
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% from the average 604 days in the fourth quarter of 2014.