| WASHINGTON, July 17
WASHINGTON, July 17 Foreclosure activity in the
United States dropped last month to the lowest level since July
2006, before the housing bubble burst, and likely will continue
to drop through the first half of next year, an industry group
said on Thursday.
RealtyTrac, which tracks housing market trends, said that
107,194 properties across the country were at some stage of the
foreclosure process in June. That marked a 2 percent decline
from May and left foreclosure activity, which includes
foreclosure notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions,
16 percent below the year-ago level.
"Over the next six to nine months, nationwide foreclosure
numbers should start to flatline at consistently historically
normal levels," RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist said
in a statement.
June was the 45th consecutive month foreclosure activity was
down on an annual basis.
Declining foreclosures have reduced the supply of properties
on the market, pushing home prices up. That, combined with
higher mortgage rates, has slowed the recovery of the U.S.
Lenders reclaimed a total of 26,889 properties in June, down
5 percent from May and the lowest level since June 2007.
Repossessions were down 24 percent from a year ago.
Nationwide, 46,743 properties were set for foreclosure
auctions, a 13 percent decrease from the last year, bringing
scheduled foreclosure auctions to the lowest level since July
Lenders started the foreclosure process on 47,243 properties
in June, down 18 percent from a year ago, and the lowest level
since November 2005.
Florida continued to have the nation's highest foreclosure
rate, followed by Illinois, New Jersey and Nevada.
The RealtyTrac report also included data for the first half
of the year, which showed foreclosure activity decreased in 79
percent of the 212 metropolitan areas during the first half of
Foreclosure activity for the first six months of the year
was down 23 percent from the same period in 2013.
"While it's important that any remaining foreclosure
infection is addressed promptly to keep it from festering,
foreclosures are no longer a widespread contagion threatening to
derail the housing market's return to full health," Blomquist
(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; Editing by Leslie Adler)