New year signals rise in foreclosed houses amid higher prices

January marked a significant increase in foreclosed houses on a monthly basis, one of the highest in the last several years.

Since the housing market stumbled, the number of foreclosed houses has generally declined on a year-over-year level. While that trend continues, January marked a significant increase on a monthly basis, one of the highest in the last several years.

This is based on recent data from RealtyTrac's U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which found that foreclosures experienced an 8 percent uptick month-over-month at the start of 2014. However, compared to the same time in 2013, that figure declined 18 percent. Both numbers are significant, as the yearly drop was the smallest since September 2012 and the monthly rise was the greatest since May of that same year.

Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said in a statement that January's change in the number of foreclosed houses was somewhat expected, but the sharp shift could be an indication that not all states have fully recovered from the housing bust. 

Markets encounter affordability problems
In addition to the rise in the number of foreclosures, some markets and metropolitan areas across the U.S. have run into affordability problems and rising home prices, the National Association of Realtors reported. 

The median existing single-family home price rose 73 percent in the measured markets during the fourth quarter in 2013, according to NAR. What's more, 42 of the 164 statistical areas had double-digit increases, while 43 more noted slipping prices.

"The vast majority of homeowners have seen significant gains in equity over the past two years, which is helping the economy through increased consumer spending," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. "At the same time, home prices have been rising faster than incomes, while mortgage interest rates are above the record lows of a year ago. This is beginning to hamper housing affordability."

For real estate professionals looking to invest or help clients, access to information is vital. Courthouse Retrieval System can provide that, with an expansive database of mortgage records, warranty deeds and much more. 

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