US foreclosure activity falls to 10-year low

Foreclosure activity in the USA has fallen to a 10-year low, as the market continues its recovery.

The latest figures from RealtyTrac, now owned by ATTOM Data Solutions, show that foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 933,045 US properties in 2016, down 14 per cent from 2015 to the lowest level since 2006.

The report shows that 0.7 per cent of all US housing units had at least one foreclosure filing in 2016, the lowest annual foreclosure rate nationwide since 2006. It also includes new data for December, when there were 85,919 US properties with foreclosure filings, down 1 per cent from the previous month and down 17 per cent from a year ago — the 15th consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity.

“The national foreclosure rate stayed within an historically normal range for the third consecutive year in 2016, even as banks continued to clear out legacy foreclosures from the last housing bubble, particularly in the final quarter of the year,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, the new parent company of RealtyTrac. “Foreclosures completed in the fourth quarter had been in the foreclosure process 803 days on average, a substantial jump from the third quarter and indicating that banks pushed through significant numbers of legacy foreclosures during the quarter. Despite that push, we still show that more than half of all active foreclosures nationwide are on loans originated between 2004 and 2008, with a much higher share of legacy foreclosures in some markets.”

A total of 379,437 US properties were repossessed by lenders (REO) in 2016, down 16 per cent from 2015 and down 64 per cent from the peak of 1,050,500 REOs in 2010 to the lowest level since 2006.

A total of 478,857 US properties started the foreclosure process in 2016, down 16 per cent from 2015 and down 78 per cent from the peak of 2,139,005 foreclosure starts in 2009.

Counter to the national trend, 15 states and the District of Columbia posted a year-over-year increase in foreclosure starts in 2016, including Delaware (up 37 per cent); Connecticut (up 35 per cent); Maine (up 30 per cent); Rhode Island (up 26 per cent); Arizona (up 15 per cent); and Massachusetts (up 12 per cent).

States with the highest foreclosure rates in 2016 were New Jersey (1.86 per cent); Delaware (1.51 per cent); Maryland (1.37 per cent); Florida (1.18 per cent); and Illinois (1.10 per cent).