WASHINGTON May 15 Foreclosure activity across
the United States fell 1 percent last month, as banks scheduled
fewer auctions even as they reclaimed more homes, a report from
RealtyTrac said on Thursday.
The latest drop brought foreclosure activity, which includes
foreclosure notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions,
20 percent below its year-ago level. It was the 43rd consecutive
month foreclosure activity was down on an annual basis.
According to RealtyTrac, which tracks and compiles housing
market data, 115,830 homes were at some stage of the foreclosure
process last month. On the eve of the economic downturn in 2006,
foreclosure activity was running at about 85,000 properties a
month. U.S. foreclosures peaked at 2.9 million properties with
filings in 2010.
"What this means is that we are getting closer to
pre-recession levels of foreclosure activity," RealtyTrac vice
president Daren Blomquist told Reuters.
Bank repossessions, though still down 14 percent from a year
ago, were up 4 percent in April, partly due to state and
government interventions that slowed down the foreclosure
process. Overall, 30,056 homes were repossessed.
"The rise in bank repossession in many states is a sign that
those markets are working through the final remnants of
foreclosures left over from the recent housing crisis,"
Florida, with one in every 400 homes facing foreclosure,
continued to have the highest rate in the nation, followed by
Maryland, Delaware and Indiana.
A total of 49,239 homes were scheduled for a foreclosure
auction last month, down 3 percent from March and 21 percent
from a year ago. It was the 41st straight month in which
scheduled auctions were down on a year-on-year basis.
Many of the bank-owned homes are of low quality and in
bottom markets, but will provide much-needed inventory for sale
in the coming months, Blomquist said
The housing market has taken a hit from a run-up in interest
rates over the past year and an unusually cold winter, but a
report last month on contract signings for March suggested the
industry is getting back on its feet.
"We know the ending to the story; we know that we expect, by
this time next year, foreclosure activity to be back to
pre-recession levels," Blomquist said. "There are going to be
some bumps on that path to normal, but we don't see any
headwinds that would cause foreclosures to rise."
(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)