Foreclosure Activity Hits 40-Month Low

For the seventh straight month, foreclosure activity has decreased throughout the nation, bringing foreclosures to their lowest levels in 40 months, RealtyTrac said in its latest report.

In April, there were 219,258 foreclosure filings, a 9% decrease from March. The Irvine, Calif.-based company’s foreclosure market report revealed a year-to-year activity decrease of 34%. The report also showed that one in every 593 homes received a foreclosure filing—default notice, scheduled auction and bank repossessions—during April.

“This slowdown continues to be largely the result of massive delays in processing foreclosures rather than the result of a housing recovery that is lifting people out of foreclosure,” said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac.

From the initial default notice to the REO, nationwide foreclosures completed in the first quarter took an average of 400 days. This is 60 days higher than the same time period last year. In New York and New Jersey, the timeframe took more than 900 days, while the average foreclosure process in Florida took 619 days and California took 330 days.

“The first delay occurs between delinquency and foreclosure, when lenders and servicers are no longer automatically pushing loans that are more than 90 days delinquent into foreclosure but are waiting longer to allow for loan modifications, short sales and possibly other disposition alternatives,” Saccacio said.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, about 3.7 million properties are in this stage of delinquency.

Saccacio said the second delay occurs after the foreclosure started, when lenders are taking longer to complete the foreclosure process.

Ten states accounted for 70% of the foreclosure activity, led by California where 55,869 properties filed for foreclosure. Seven of the 10 highest MSAs were in California, with Modesto topping the chart, with one in every 136 homes in foreclosure.

Despite a 59% decrease from April 2010, Florida was second with 19,649 properties in foreclosure in this year’s monthly report.

Arizona was the third highest state in foreclosures, with 13,419 properties. Other notable states leading in foreclosures were Michigan (12,996), Nevada (11,761) and Illinois (10,055).

RealtyTrac reported that 63,422 properties were issued default notices for the first time in April, dropping close to the 48-month low experienced in February.

Scheduled foreclosure auctions hit a 31-month low, with a total of 86,304 properties prepared for auction for the first time.

Despite fewer nationwide foreclosures, bank repossessions were still above a 22-month low that occurred in February. In Nevada, bank repossessions hit a record high by increasing 23% from March to 4,606.

For the 52nd straight month, Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 97 housing units receiving a filing. Arizona and California were the next two states with the greatest foreclosure rates, with one in every 205 and one in every 240, respectively.

For MSAs with population greater than 200,000, Las Vegas posted the highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 82 properties filing for foreclosure. This is more than seven times the national average.