As new foreclosures rose during December, the inventory jumped by the highest amount since March 2005.
Foreclosure.com announced Wednesday that 24,124 U.S. residential properties joined the foreclosure list last month, 8 percent more than in November.
The total number of foreclosed homes available for sale shot up 13% from the prior month to 91,905 in December, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company reported.
Both the inventory and the newly-listed increases were the highest month-to-month boost since last March, according to the announcement.
"The relative stability of U.S. foreclosure inventory ended in December," said company President and CEO Brad Geisen in the statement. "With lending institutions closing their books at the end of the year, it is somewhat common for the foreclosure inventory to rise."
And while it is "premature to predict that December's inventory indicates a foreclosure crisis," the rise, "which is higher than in recent years, should be closely monitored as 2006 begins," he added.
Inventory will very likely remain high in the early months, if waning investor confidence in the housing market, high interest rates and a weakening sellers market persist, Geisen said.
The South, which includes Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, led the country with a 9 percent increase in inventory and a 17.4 upturn in new foreclosures, Foreclosure.com spokeswoman Tristam Wallace said in an e-mailed statement. The Midwest showed the second highest percentage increases, followed by the Northeast and the West, according to the announcement.
Texas had the highest foreclosure inventory -- 11,458 -- followed by Ohio's 8419 and Michigan's 7,955 properties. They also had the largest amount of new foreclosures in the month, 2,997, 2380 and 2064, respectively, the announcement said.
"Regardless of what happens in the first quarter, the current foreclosure inventory represents a very strong buyers market for investors and individuals," Geisen concluded.