Foreclosure Spikes Signal “Spring Cleaning” RealtyTrac says from Les and Elaine

People dress as foreclosed homes during a protest representing 14 million unemployed Americans and demanding action from congress and corporations down on Wall Street March 6, 2012 in New York. Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

People dress as foreclosed homes

As the housing industry continues to recover we see occasional troublesome spikes in one statistic or another.  RealtyTrac reported a couple of such statistics in its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for January, surges that, at first glance look ominous, but are probably good news.

First, RealtyTrac reports that overall foreclosure activity increased during the month, driven primarily by a large uptick in completed foreclosures or bank repossessions which surged to a 15 month high and a much smaller increase in scheduled foreclosure auctions.  Rather than signaling further trouble, however these numbers, occurring as they do in the last two steps in the process, are likely indications that lenders are finally, to paraphrase Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president, “cleaning up.”

RealtyTrac reports that overall foreclosure activity during the month included filings – default notices, scheduled auctions, and repossessions – on 119,800 properties nationwide, a 5 percent increase from December but 4 percent fewer filings than in January 2014.   The number represents a filing on one of every 1,102 housing units in the country.

Bank repossessions soared by 55 percent from December with a total of 37,292 properties foreclosed during the month.  This was an increase of 23 percent from January 2014 and the highest monthly total since October 2013.  Still, the January figure was down 63 percent from the peak of 102,134 in September 2010.

“The year-over-year increase in REOs in January was the first annual increase nationwide following 25 consecutive months of declines, getting the foreclosure spring cleaning we anticipated in our last foreclosure report off to a quick start in 2015,” Blomquist said. “Meanwhile, the number of future foreclosure auctions scheduled in January continued to increase in many states, foreshadowing more foreclosure spring cleaning to come in the next several months in those states.”



Twenty-seven states posted year-over-year increases in completed foreclosures, many rising to levels not seen in months or even years.  Among states with the most dramatic increases were Ohio (+197 percent), New Jersey (+116 percent to a 51-month high), Maryland (+100 percent), Washington (+75 percent to a 39-month high), Arizona (+61 percent to a 20-month high), California (+58 percent to a 24-month high), Pennsylvania (+44 percent to a 42-month high), Michigan (+39 percent to a 16-month high), North Carolina (+38 percent to a 15-month high), Texas (+24 percent to a 16-month high), and New York (+24 percent to a 55-month high.)

Foreclosure auctions were scheduled for a total of 51,782 properties in January up 8 percent from the previous month but 7 percent fewer than a year ago and 67 percent below the peak of 158,105 in March 2010. Scheduled auctions were up in 21 states compared to one year earlier.  Among the largest increases was a 268 percent jump in Massachusetts, 125 percent in New Jersey, and 111 percent in North Carolina.  New York rose 79 percent to a 55 month high and Missouri was up 74 percent to a 29 month high.

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