WASHINGTON, April 10 The number of U.S. home
foreclosure filings slid 23 percent in March from a year ago,
helping bring first-quarter foreclosure activity to its lowest
level since the second quarter of 2007, a report from RealtyTrac
showed on Thursday.
There were 117,485 U.S. properties with default notices,
scheduled auctions and bank repossessions in March, RealtyTrac
That lifted overall foreclosure activity by 4 percent last
month from February, when it posted an over seven-year low. The
monthly increase was driven by a 7 percent rise in foreclosure
starts, which is the initial public notice starting the property
The U.S. housing market is back on its feet, aided by rising
home prices, steady job growth and fewer troubled loans.
More U.S. homeowners are also keeping up with their mortgage
payments. March was the 42nd straight month where U.S.
foreclosure activity dropped from year-ago levels.
"Now that the foreclosure deluge has dried up, banks are
turning their attention back to properties that have been
sitting in foreclosure limbo for some time," said Daren
Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.
Banks are expected to devote more resources to dealing with
the lingering inventory of nearly half a million
already-foreclosed homes that still need to be sold, said
Currently, about 10 percent of so-called bank-owned
properties are listed for sale and more than half are still
occupied by the former homeowner or renter.
A total of 28,840 U.S. properties were repossessed by
lenders in March, down 5 percent from February, and marking a
drop of 34 percent from the same month a year ago to their
lowest level since July 2007.
There were 27,147 scheduled foreclosure auctions in judicial
states in March, up 9 percent from February and up 4 percent
from March 2013. Scheduled foreclosure auctions in non-judicial
states totaled 23,511 in March, up 3 percent from February, but
down 27 percent from March 2013.
Some non-judicial states, including Utah, Oregon and
Colorado, bucked the overall trend and saw increases in
scheduled foreclosure auctions from a year ago.
Judicial states have seen the time it takes to foreclose
increase compared to their counterparts, partly due to the
intensive process and the large volume of cases the courts have
Florida posted the highest foreclosure rate among all states
last month, followed by Maryland and Nevada.
(Reporting by Margaret Chadbourn, editing by G Crosse)