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Foreclosures Fall, But Turnaround Stalls


New and completed foreclosure filings fell last month. Even the worst state saw improvement. But the time to complete a foreclosure deteriorated.

With 152,500 U.S. properties that were hit with a foreclosure filing during March, mortgage servicers were a little less busy than in February, when 154,281 borrowers faced a filing.

Foreclosure filings — default filings including notices of default and lis pendens; auction filings, including notices of trustee sale and notices of foreclosure sale; and real-estate-owned filings and repossessions — have subsided from 198,853 in March 2012.

The numbers were reported by RealtyTrac, which says it collects data from more than 2,200 U.S. counties.

During the entire first quarter, 442,117 properties had a foreclosure filing.

At the top of last month’s list was Florida, where 28,248 properties were hit with a filing. However, Sunshine State foreclosures fell from February’s 31,726 filings.

California’s 18,489 foreclosures ranked it as the second-busiest state for servicers. Golden State activity worsened from 18,003 filings in February.

Next were 11,977 foreclosure filings in Illinois during March, Ohio’s 10,731 foreclosures and Georgia’s 6,300 filings.

Four filings in North Dakota were the fewest of any state.

At one filing for every 859 housing units, the U.S. foreclosure rate in March improved from the prior month’s one-in-849. The rate was one-in-662 a year earlier.

In Nevada, March’s rate was one filing for each 306 homes, worse than any other state. The Silver state worsened from a one-in-320 rate a month earlier.

Florida’s rate was second-worst at one-in-317, though that was a big improvement from a filing on every 282 residential properties in February.

Florida’s poor showing was aided by Miami, which had the worst foreclosure rate among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000. Six other MSAs in Florida had foreclosure rates that ranked among the 10-worst.

No. 3 Illinois had a March rate of one-in-441, then one-in-477 in Ohio and one-in-630 in Maryland.

North Dakota’s one-in 78,879 rate was the lowest in the nation.

Mortgage servicers completed 43,597 foreclosures last month, fewer than in February, when REO filings totaled 45,038. Repossessions also subsided from March 2012, when 55,075 foreclosures were completed.

First-quarter 2013 completed foreclosures totaled 139,088 — the best quarter since the second-quarter 2007.

With 7,562 repossessions, Florida had more completed foreclosures than any state. Florida REO filings, however, improved from 8,108 in the prior report.

Completed foreclosures worsened to 3,549 from 3,282 in Illinois, landing the state in the No. 2 spot.

California’s 3,410 REO filings were third-worst, then Georgia’s 3,350 and Ohio’s 3,325.

Just three foreclosures were completed in North Dakota, the fewest of any state.

It took an average of 477 days to complete a U.S. foreclosure in the first quarter, longer than 414 days in the third quarter and 370 days in the first-quarter 2012. The latest level was the worst since the first-quarter 2007.

The average time to complete a foreclosure increased from the previous quarter in 39 non-judicial states.

It took 1,049 days to complete a foreclosure in New York — longer than any other state in the first quarter.

No. 2 New Jersey had a 1,002-day turnaround. Florida’s 893 days followed, then 824 days in Hawaii and 720 days in Illinois.

A foreclosure took just 159 days to complete in Texas, faster than any other state.

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