Today, RealtyTrac, released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™ for March and the first quarter of 2014, which shows foreclosure filings were reported on 117,485 U.S. properties in March; a 4.0 percent increase from February, but still down 23 percent overall from March 2013 figures. March was the 42nd consecutive month where U.S. foreclosure activity decreased from a year ago, helping to drop first quarter foreclosure activity to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2007.
“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. “This is most evident in judicial foreclosure states that were more likely to have impediments in the foreclosure process, but there are also signs of this catch-up trend happening in some non-judicial states like California, where an increasing number of judicial foreclosure filings boosted foreclosure starts in the first quarter.”
Increases in Foreclosures
Despite the decrease in overall foreclosure activity in the first quarter, 29 states posted annual increases in scheduled foreclosure auctions, including Utah (up 226 percent), Oregon (up 177 percent), Connecticut (up 131 percent), New Jersey (up 79 percent), Delaware (up 49 percent), New York (up 47 percent), Maryland (up 46 percent), Massachusetts (up 37 percent), Nevada (up 21 percent) and Florida (up 21 percent).
Also, foreclosure starts in the first quarter increased from a year ago in 19 states, including: New Jersey (up 83 percent), Maryland (up 43 percent), Indiana (up 38 percent), Delaware (up 24 percent), Connecticut (up 13 percent), and California (up 10 percent). The increase in California was the first annual increase since the second quarter of 2012, and the first double-digit percentage increase since the fourth quarter of 2009.
RealtyTrac also included an update of occupied REOs (bank-owned properties still occupied after the completed foreclosure) in its first quarter report. Of the 259,783 bank-owned properties with owner-occupancy data available — out of a total of 483,224 bank-owned homes nationwide — 51 percent were still occupied by the former homeowner or a tenant. Metros with the highest percentage of occupied REOs included Nashville, Tenn. (80 percent), Richmond, Va. (80 percent), New York (73 percent), Houston (73 percent) and San Jose, Calif., (73 percent).
Average Times to Sell
U.S. properties foreclosed in the first quarter of 2014 were in the foreclosure process an average of 572 days, up 1 percent from 564 days in previous quarter and up 20 percent from 477 days in first quarter of 2013. New Jersey overtook New York as the state with the longest average time to foreclose in the first quarter with an average of 1,103 days to complete foreclosure.
The average time to foreclose was the shortest among all states in Alaska (151 days), followed by Texas (169 days), Delaware (177 days), New Hampshire (190 days), and Alabama (193 days).
Average Time to Sell REO
U.S. bank-owned properties sold in the first quarter had been bank-owned for an average of 226 days when they sold, up 34 percent from the average of 168 days in the first quarter of 2013. States with above-average time to sell REOs included Texas (347 days), Michigan (342 days), Minnesota (313 days), Colorado (305 days), and Georgia (276 days).
Properties in the foreclosure process that sold during the first quarter took an average of 509 days to sell after starting the foreclosure process, up 33 percent from an average of 382 days in the first quarter of 2013.