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Completed Foreclosures Tumble in 2012

Mortgage servicers completed 38 percent fewer foreclosures last year than in 2011, while total filings retreated and the foreclosure rate improved. U.S. foreclosure metrics also were better in December, with total filings falling to a 68-month low. Repossessions in Florida, however, have been growing.

The final month of 2012 finished with 162,511 U.S. properties hit with a foreclosure filing — including default notices, scheduled auctions and repossessions. It was the fewest foreclosures since April 2007, when 147,708 filings were made.

Activity fell from November, when 180,817 faced a foreclosure, and December 2011, when foreclosures were filed on 205,024 homes.

RealtyTrac, which reported the statistics Thursday, said California’s 29,925 filings were more than any other state but fewer than the 31,974 Golden State filings in November.

No. 2 was Florida, where filings fell to 26,588 in December from 29,612 .

After that were 11,489 in Illinois, 10,844 in Ohio and 7,021 in Georgia.

Only two foreclosure filings were made in North Dakota, the fewest of any state.

On an annual basis, 1,836,634 properties had a foreclosure filing during all of last year, fewer than 1,887,777 foreclosure previously reported for 2011.

California was also at the top of the 2012 list with 319,162 properties that faced a foreclosure during 2012. Florida’s 279,230 filings followed, then 136,603 in Illinois, 105,610 in Georgia and 89,584 in Ohio.

A foreclosure was filed on one out of every 810 housing units in December, better than the previous month’s one-in-728 rate. The improvement was more pronounced compared to a year earlier, when one out of every 634 properties faced a filing.

Florida had one filing for each 338 properties, the worst rate in the country. The Sunshine State’s foreclosure rate has worsened from a year prior, when a filing was made on every 360 properties.

Next was Nevada, where a filing was made on every 345 properties in December. After that was one-in-457 in California, one-ine-461 in Illinois and one-in-473 in Ohio.

Just one foreclosure was filed on every 158,749 North Dakota properties, the best rate in the nation.

During all of 2012, one out of every 72 housing units were hit with a foreclosure filing, an improvement from the 2011 rate of one-in-69. Last year’s rate worked out to 1.39 percent, better than the 2011 rate of 1.45 percent and continuing an improving trend from 2010, when the rate was 2.23 percent.

The annual rate was worst in Florida, boosted by its eight MSAs among the 20-worst.

Arizona and Nevada tied for the second-worst foreclosure rate in 2012, while Illinois and Georgia tied for the next spot.

Stockton, Calif., had a rate of 3.98 percent — the worst among MSAs with populations of at least 200,000. In addition, six other California areas ranked among the worst 20 MSAs.

Last month, mortgage servicers completed 53,054 foreclosures on U.S. properties, fewer than the 59,134 repossessions in November and 61,774 in December 2011.

Real-estate-owned filings were greatest in Florida, where 8,220 foreclosures were completed in December. Florida’s REO filings worsened from 8,217 the prior month and 7,360 in the same month a year earlier.

California was next with 6,593 repossessions in December, followed by Ohio’s 3,718, Michigan’s 3,506 and Texas’ 3,305.

North Dakota’s two REO filings were the least of any state.

Full-year 2012 completed foreclosures for all U.S. properties totaled 665,140, slowing from the previous year’s 1,070,603.

The report indicated that it took an average of 414 days to complete a foreclosure in the fourth quarter, longer than the 348 days it took a year earlier.

It took 1,089 days to complete a foreclosure in New York — the longest of any state. New Jersey’s 987 days was the second worst, then 853 days in Florida, 781 days in Hawaii and 697 days in Illinois. Four of those states — Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York — have been targeted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency for higher guaranty fees because of the higher cost to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to complete foreclosures in those states.

“We expect to see continued increases in judicial foreclosure states near the beginning of the year as lenders finish catching up with the backlogs in those states, and another set of increases in some non-judicial states near the end of the year as lenders adjust to the new laws and process some deferred foreclosures in those states,” RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said in the report.

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