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Foreclosure Starts Spike

A surge in new foreclosure filings by the nation’s mortgage servicers last month was behind an acceleration in March’s overall national foreclosure activity.

In March, there were 108,970 U.S. properties that were hit with a foreclosure filing — including
default notices, scheduled auctions and  repossessions.

Total foreclosure filings rose from the prior month, with an 11 percent month-over-month increase reported. It was the worst month since October 2015.

RealtyTrac reported the statistics Thursday.

“Over the last 10 years, U.S. foreclosure activity on average has increased 6 percent from February to March, and the 11 percent increase this year was not far off that typical seasonal bump,” RealtyTrac Senior Vice President Daren Blomquist explained in the report. “February is of course a shorter month, and banks often ramp up foreclosure filings in March to take advantage of the spring selling season — which should prove particularly favorable to banks this year given low inventory levels of homes for sale and continued strong demand from buyers regaining confidence in the housing market.”

But filings retreated 11 percent compared to March 2015.

During the three months ended March 31, 2016, foreclosure filings were made on a total of 289,116 properties, “the lowest quarterly total since the fourth quarter of 2006, a more than nine-year low.”

RealtyTrac noted that the monthly increase from February 2016 was driven by foreclosure starts, which jumped 21 percent. But foreclosure starts declined 11 percent from March 2015.

The report indicated that it took an average of 625 days to complete the foreclosure process in the first quarter, slightly fewer than 629 days the prior quarter but more than 620 days in the year-earlier period.

It took 1,234 days to complete a foreclosure in New Jersey — more than any other state. Next was Hawaii’s 1,110 days, then 1,061 in New York, 1,059 in Utah and 1,018 in Florida.

Virginia’s 195-day foreclosure process was longer than any other state.

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