Foreclosure Markets Thawing in New RealtyTrac Report

by Chicago Agent

All but frozen because of legislative and legal gridlock, foreclosures are beginning to thaw, according to RealtyTrac.

The U.S. foreclosure markets spent much of 2011 on hiatus, cowering in the corner while banks handled the robo signing controversy and settled the substantial lawsuits that resulted from the scandal’s numerous foreclosure-related mishaps.

2012 is a new year, though, and with the mortgage settlement a done deal, many banks are picking up where they left off in 2010 and resuming their foreclosure filings, according to the latest Foreclosure Market Report from RealtyTrac.

Altogether, 210,941 properties – or, one in every 624 homes – received some form of foreclosure filings in January, a 3 percent increase from December that involved default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.

Brandon Moore, the CEO of RealtyTrac, said that though January’s totals were down by 19 percent from January 2011, he sees 2012 as a new dawn for foreclosures.

“Although overall foreclosure activity was down from a year ago for the 16th straight month in January, we continue to see signs on a local and regional level that the frozen-up foreclosure process is beginning to thaw,” Moore said. “We expect the pattern of increasing foreclosures to continue in the coming months, especially given the finalized mortgage and foreclosure settlement reached in early February between 49 state attorneys general and five of the nation’s largest lenders.”

Specifically, foreclosure activity by type varies wildly from state to state. For instance, 58,362 properties received default notices for the first time in January, which was unchanged from December but down by 22 percent from January 2011; however, in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida, notices were up by more than 20 percent from last year, and in Maryland and Pennsylvania, they were up an astounding 100 and 112 percent, respectively.

Foreclosure auction data yielded similar results. 86,037 property auctions were scheduled in January, up 1 percent from December but down 20 percent from January 2011. Yet in South Carolina, auctions were up 79 percent year-over-year, while in Indiana and Illinois, auctions increased by 141 percent, a 17-month high for Indiana and a 15-month high for Illinois.

Moore said that even with the mortgage settlement, which was designed in part to unclog the foreclosure pipeline, some state regulations will still produce uneven results.

“Other roadblocks to foreclosure are still in place at the state level, however, including legislation altering the foreclosure process and lawsuits against lenders,” Moore said. “We expect to see somewhat uneven trends in local and regional foreclosure numbers going forward as lenders work through these additional legislative and legal roadblocks.”

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