Foreclosure Activity Decreases, But Bank Repossessions on the Rise

DEC 13, 2012 11:07am ET

Bank repossessions increased annually through November for the first time in two years despite a drop in overall foreclosure activity, according to RealtyTrac.

Lenders completed the foreclosure process on 59,134 U.S. properties in November, an 11% increase from the previous month and 5% more than a year ago. This is the first rise in bank repossessions since the robo-signing allegations came to light in October 2010, resulting in a slowdown in foreclosure activity.

REO activity was up in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Some of the largest increases were seen in Indiana (up 96%), Arkansas (88%), Missouri (87%), New Jersey (84%) and Connecticut (60%).

Meanwhile, there was a 3% decrease in overall foreclosure filings—default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions—for November. The Irvine, Calif.-based real estate information provider reported 180,817 properties nationwide with a foreclosure filing for the month, down 3% from October and 19% from a year ago.

RealtyTrac said one in every 728 housing units had a foreclosure filing.

A drop in foreclosure starts was the primary reason why overall foreclosure activity was down in November. Foreclosure starts were filed for the first time on 77,494 housing units, the lowest level since December 2006. This is down 13% from the previous month and 28% on an annual basis.

“This is more evidence that we are past the worst of the foreclosure problem brought about by the housing bubble bursting six years ago,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “We’re likely not completely out of the woods when it comes to foreclosure starts, either, as lenders are still adjusting to new foreclosure ground rules set forth in the national mortgage settlement along with various state laws and court rulings.”

Despite the national decrease in foreclosure activity, 23 states and Washington, D.C., experienced an increase in overall activity from last November. Furthermore, nine states posted 12-month highs in foreclosure activity, including Florida, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Maryland and South Carolina.  

At the state level, Florida posted the highest foreclosure rate across the country for the third consecutive month, with one in every 304 housing units with a foreclosure filing in November—more than twice the national average.

Rounding out the top 10 states by foreclosure rates is Nevada, Illinois, California, and South Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Indiana.

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