1.1 Million U.S. Foreclosure Filings in 2015, Down 3 Percent From 2014

1.1 Million U.S. Foreclosure Filings in 2015, Down 3 Percent From 2014

Residential News » Irvine Edition | By Michael Gerrity | January 14, 2016 1:01 PM ET

New Jersey, Florida Top Foreclosure Rate States in 2015
According to Irvine, Ca - based RealtyTrac's Year-End 2015 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, U.S. foreclosure filings -- default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- were reported on 1,083,572 U.S. properties in 2015, down 3 percent from 2014 and down 62 percent from the peak of 2,871,891 properties with foreclosure filings in 2010. The nearly 1.1 million properties with foreclosure filings in 2015 was the lowest annual total since 2006, when there were 717,522 properties with foreclosure filings nationwide.
The 2015 report also shows that 0.82 percent of all U.S. housing units (one in every 122) had at least one foreclosure filing in 2015, the second consecutive year where the annual foreclosure rate has been below 1 percent of all U.S. housing units.
The report also includes new data for December, when there were 103,373 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings, down 1 percent from the previous month and down 9 percent from a year ago -- the third consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity.
U.S. foreclosure starts in December were down 30 percent from a year ago -- the sixth consecutive month with an annual decrease in foreclosure starts -- while U.S. bank repossessions (REOs) in December increased 65 percent from a year ago -- the 10th consecutive month with an annual increase in REOs.
"In 2015 we saw a return to normal, healthy foreclosure activity in many markets even as banks continued to clean up some of the last vestiges of distress left over from the last housing crisis," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "The increase in bank repossessions that we saw for the year was evidence of this cleanup phase, which largely involves completing foreclosure on highly distressed, low value properties.
"Meanwhile, local economic problems became a larger driver of foreclosure activity in 2015," Blomquist continued. "Examples of this are Atlantic City, New Jersey, which posted the nation's highest metro foreclosure rate for the year, along with several heavy oil-producing markets in Texas and Oklahoma where foreclosure activity increased in 2015, counter to the national trend."
Foreclosure activity increases in 24 states, six of 20 largest metro areas
Counter to the national trend, 24 states and the District of Columbia posted an increase in foreclosure activity in 2015 compared to 2014, including Massachusetts (up 55 percent), Missouri (up 50 percent), Oklahoma (up 36 percent), New York (up 24 percent) and Texas (up 16 percent).
Among the nation's 20 largest metro areas, six posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in 2015: Boston (up 44 percent); St. Louis (up 38 percent); Dallas (up 25 percent); Detroit (up 22 percent); New York (up 9 percent); and Houston (up less than 1 percent).
Foreclosure starts at 10-year low in 2015
A total of 569,835 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in 2015, down 11 percent from 2014 and down 73 percent from the peak of more than 2.1 million foreclosure starts in 2009 to a 10-year low.
Bucking the national trend, foreclosure starts increased in 2015 in 16 states, including Oklahoma (up 92 percent), Massachusetts (up 67 percent), Missouri (up 28 percent), Virginia (up 23 percent), Nevada (up 14 percent), and Arkansas (up 14 percent).
Bank repossessions up in 2015 following four consecutive years down
A total of 449,900 U.S. properties were repossessed by lenders in 2015, up 38 percent from 2014 but still 57 percent below the peak of nearly 1.1 million bank repossessions (REOs) in 2010.
"The median price of a bank-owned home in 2015 was 41 percent below the median price of all homes -- the biggest bank-owned discount nationwide since 2006," Blomquist noted. "That may be surprising to some, but demonstrates that in a healthy real estate market foreclosures are no longer mainstream, but instead are back to being a market niche of properties with problems that many buyers do not want to tackle."
Bank repossessions (REOs) increased from a year ago in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Some of the biggest increases were in New Jersey (up 226 percent), New York (up 194 percent), Texas (up 115 percent), North Carolina (up 108 percent), and Oregon (up 96 percent).
"Foreclosures in the Seattle area are trending downward at a much faster pace than the rest of our state and the nation as a whole," said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. "This is not all that surprising given Seattle's robust economy and thriving housing market. Also not surprising is that home repossessions by lenders rose precipitously in 2015. I expect this number to remain somewhat volatile throughout 2016, and likely into 2017, as banks continue to work through their backlog of foreclosures. This is an indication that at long last we are working through the tail end of the 2008 housing market crisis."
New Jersey, Florida, Maryland post top state foreclosure rates in 2015
States with the highest foreclosure rates in 2015 were New Jersey (1.91 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Florida (1.77 percent); Maryland (1.60 percent); Nevada (1.40 percent); and Illinois (1.26 percent).
Other states posting foreclosure rates in the top 10 highest in 2015 were Delaware at No. 6 (1.05 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Ohio at No. 7 (1.01 percent); South Carolina at No. 8 (1.01 percent); Indiana at No. 9 (0.91 percent); and Tennessee at No. 10 (0.89 percent).
Atlantic City, Trenton, Tampa post top metro foreclosure rates in 2015
Metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in 2015 were Atlantic City, New Jersey (3.43 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Trenton, New Jersey (2.14 percent); Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida (2.03 percent); Jacksonville, Florida (2.02 percent); and Miami (1.98 percent).
"South Florida real estate has seen a strong turnaround from our 2008 bottom," said Mike Pappas, CEO and president of Keyes Company, covering the South Florida market. "Many properties have surpassed the peak valuation of 2005. Due to our judicial system we still have a remnant of foreclosures and short sales working through the system."
Other major metro areas with top 20 foreclosure rates in 2015 were Orlando at No. 9 (1.78 percent); Baltimore at No. 11 (1.63 percent); Chicago at No. 14 (1.58 percent); Las Vegas at No. 17 (1.48 percent); and Philadelphia at No. 19 (1.46 percent).
Average time to foreclose dips nationwide, more than 1,000 days in six states
U.S. properties foreclosed in the fourth quarter had been in the foreclosure process an average of 629 days, down slightly from 630 days in the third quarter but still up 4 percent from the average 604 days in the fourth quarter of 2014.
There were six states where the average time to foreclose in the fourth quarter was more than 1,000 days: New Jersey (1,180 days), Utah (1,128 days), Hawaii (1,106 days), New Mexico (1,079 days), Florida (1,025 days), and New York (1,010 days).
States with the shortest average time to foreclose in the fourth quarter were South Dakota (105 days), North Carolina (151 days), Virginia (225 days), Wyoming (263 days), and Texas (266 days).


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