There were a total of 376,931 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings (default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions) in the third quarter of 2013,RealtyTrac reported Thursday.
The Q3 figure represents a 7 percent decline from the previous quarter and a 29 percent decline from the third quarter of 2012—the biggest annual decrease recorded since the second quarter of 2011.
By RealtyTrac’s calculations, one in every 348 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing last quarter.
“September was the 36th consecutive month with an annual decrease in U.S. foreclosure activity, a downward trend that started in October 2010 when lenders and servicers were accused of improperly signing off on foreclosure documents with a practice dubbed robo-signing,” RealtyTrac noted in its report.
The tracking firm says September’s numbers—down 27 percent from September last year—helped drop third-quarter foreclosure activity to the lowest quarterly level since the second quarter of 2007.
Nationwide, foreclosure starts in the third quarter were at a seven-year low, RealtyTrac reported. A total of 174,366 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time during the quarter, down 13 percent from the previous quarter and down 39 percent from a year earlier. Total foreclosure starts hit their lowest level since the second quarter of 2006.
Newly initiated foreclosures decreased from a year ago in 38 states, including Colorado (-71 percent), Arizona (-63 percent), California (-59 percent), Illinois (-56 percent), and Florida (-52 percent).
They rose from a year ago in 11 states, more than tripling in Maryland (+259 percent) and Oregon (+252 percent). Other states exhibiting the biggest quarterly jumps in foreclosure starts included New Jersey (+53 percent), Connecticut (+52 percent), Nevada (+36 percent), and New York (+25 percent).
At the same time, REO inventory showed signs of growth. While third-quarter bank repossessions (REO) decreased 24 percent from a year ago, new REOs were up 7 percent from Q2. A total of 119,485 U.S. properties were repossessed by lenders in the third quarter, putting the nation on pace for nearly half a million total bank repossessions for the year, according to RealtyTrac.
The quarterly increase in REOs nationwide was driven by gains in 26 states, starting with Kentucky, where newREO inventory expanded 67 percent; New York, with a 65 percent jump in new REOs; and New Jersey, which saw a 64 percent increase in REOs during the three-month period.
Also among the nation’s biggest REO-gainers were Illinois (+44 percent), Virginia (+36 percent), Oregon (+35 percent), Connecticut (+34 percent), Indiana (+30 percent), Nevada (+29 percent), and California (+19 percent).
Florida had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate during the third quarter. With one in every 126 Florida homes receiving a filing in the July-to-September time period. Its foreclosure rate is more than twice the national average, and that’s despite declining foreclosure activity in Q3—down 7 percent from the previous quarter and down 8 percent from last year.
North Dakota had the lowest foreclosure rate in the country. For the entirety of the third quarter, only 34 foreclosure filings were issued in the state of North Dakota.
RealtyTrac says properties that were foreclosed in Q3 were in the foreclosure process an average of 551 days, up 5 percent from 526 days in Q2 and up 44 percent from 382 days in Q3 2012.
The average time to foreclose was 1,037 days in New York, the longest of any state, followed by New Jersey (1,014 days), Florida (929), Illinois (828), and Connecticut (693).
The shortest foreclosure timelines in the third quarter were in Maine (160 days), Texas (164), Alabama (185), Virginia (189) and Delaware (202).
By Carrie Bay