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Fewer Foreclosures Finalized in February

Completed foreclosures fall 7% in February

March 28, 2013

By Mortgage Daily staff

Distressed loans converted to real-estate-owned assets at a slower pace last month, though the volume of homes being foreclosed remains elevated compared to the years before the financial crisis.

Mortgage servicers completed foreclosures on 54,000 properties in February. That was the fewest completed foreclosures during any month since September 2007.

The prior month's repossessions totaled a revised 58,000.

The statistics were reported in the National Foreclosure Report from CoreLogic.

In the same month during 2012, servicers foreclosed on 67,000 mortgages.

But despite the month-over-month and year-over-year improvement, foreclosure activity remains elevated compared to the 21,000 monthly average between 2000 and 2006.

Last month's activity brought the U.S. foreclosure inventory to 1.2 million properties, 1.8 percent lower than January. A year earlier, the inventory was 1.5 million homes.

The foreclosure inventory has decreased for 16 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis.

But a separate report from RealtyTrac paints a slightly different picture.

RealtyTrac reported that nearly 1.5 million properties were actively in the foreclosure process or carried as REO assets in the first quarter of this year -- 9 percent more than in the first-quarter 2012.

Behind RealtyTrac's year-over-year increase was a 59 percent jump in pre-foreclosure inventory; inventory of homes scheduled for foreclosure auction was down a quarter and REO inventory fell 3 percent.

Still, RealtyTrac's first-quarter report was down nearly a third from the 2.2 million peak in December 2010.

CoreLogic's data indicated that the U.S. foreclosure inventory rate was 2.8 percent in February. The inventory rate improved from the previous month's 2.9 percent of all outstanding home loans.

Even more progress has been made from the same month last year, when the foreclosure inventory rate was 3.5 percent.

The 9.9 percent inventory rate in Florida was the worst of any state. The rate in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater core-based statistical area was 10.4 percent -- the highest of any area. The second-worst CBSA rate of 9.9 percent was in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area.

The second-worst state was New Jersey, which had a rate of 7.2 percent.

Next was New York, where the rate was 5.0 percent. All of the three-worst states were judicial foreclosure states.

Nevada followed with a 4.6 percent rate, then Illinois, which had a 4.5 percent rate.

CoreLogic said 743,903 U.S. foreclosures were completed during the 12 months ended Feb. 28.

A foreclosure was completed on one out of every 55 outstanding mortgages based on CoreLogic's latest 12-month total.

"We continue to see a declining trend in foreclosure activity, with major markets leading the way," CoreLogic President and Chief Executive Officer Anand Nallathambi said in the report. "The drop in delinquencies and foreclosure starts will help support a resurgence in the home purchase market this year and next."

RealtyTrac's report said that more than a third of properties in the foreclosure process, excluding REOs, have been identified as vacant -- with the vacancy rate as high as half or more in states like Indiana, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

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