Foreclosure activity inched higher in January

A recent report from RealtyTrac indicates that foreclosure activity increased in January after remaining relatively dormant during the course of 2011.

A recent report from RealtyTrac indicates that foreclosure activity increased in January after remaining relatively dormant during the course of 2011.

According to the foreclosure data company, foreclosure activity inched 3 percent higher in January from the previous month, but remained 19 percent below the amount of activity recorded in January 2011. In addition, the report found that there were 210,941 foreclosed houses across the country at the beginning of the year. 

"Although overall foreclosure activity was down from a year ago for the 16th straight month in January, we continue to see signs on a local and regional level that the frozen-up foreclosure process is beginning to thaw," said RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore. "Foreclosure activity increased on a year-over-year basis for the first time in more than 12 months in Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania, following a pattern we saw in late 2011 in states such as California, Arizona and Massachusetts."

Meanwhile, the number of foreclosure filings plummeted in January on an annual basis by 22 percent, but remained relatively unchanged from the previous months, as there were 58,362 filings during the course of the month.

Regionally, real estate data showed default notices surged in a number of states, including Connecticut, where notices spiked 23 percent, and Massachusetts, where they increased 27 percent. Overall, the entire country reported a rise in the default rate of 20 percent from the same month in 2011.

Additionally, the number of foreclosure auctions followed similar trends, as they increased 1 percent from the previous month, but were 20 percent lower than January 2011.

However, despite the fact that foreclosure activity was significantly lower than levels recorded at the beginning of 2011, analysts from RealtyTrac anticipate rates to increase during the course of the year as lenders start to revamp the process.       

"We expect the pattern of increasing foreclosures to continue in the coming months, especially given the finalized mortgage and foreclosure settlement reached in early February between 49 state attorneys general and five of the nation’s largest lenders," Moore added. "The settlement sets forth clear guidelines for lenders and servicers to follow when foreclosing, which should allow them to push through some of the delayed foreclosures from last year."

But Moore also stated that on a local level, many states still have numerous legislative obstacles to curb the foreclosure process in place. As a result, RealtyTrac expects to see significant differences in foreclosure data from states versus regions throughout 2012.



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