More than 3.95 million foreclosure filings were recorded last year, according to RealtyTrac's Year-End 2009 Foreclosure Market Report. The filings, which include default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions, were reported on about 2.82 million U.S. properties – a 21% increase in total properties from 2008 and a 120% increase in total properties from 2007.
The report also shows that 2.21% of all U.S. housing units – or one in 45 – received at least one foreclosure filing during the year – up from 1.84% in 2008, 1.03% in 2007 and 0.58% in 2006.
Foreclosure filings were reported on 349,519 U.S. properties in December – a 14% jump from the previous month and a 15% increase from December 2008, when a similar monthly jump in foreclosure activity occurred. Despite the increase in December, foreclosure activity in the fourth quarter decreased 7% from the third quarter, although it was still up 18% from the fourth quarter of 2008.
"As bad as the 2009 numbers are, they probably would have been worse if not for legislative and industry-related delays in processing delinquent loans," says James J. Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac. "After peaking in July with over 361,000 homes receiving a foreclosure notice, we saw four straight monthly decreases driven primarily by short-term factors: trial loan modifications, state legislation extending the foreclosure process and an overwhelming volume of inventory clogging the foreclosure pipeline.
"Despite all the delays, foreclosure activity still hit a record high for our report in 2009, capped off by a substantial increase in December," Saccacio continues. "In the long term, a massive supply of delinquent loans continues to loom over the housing market, and many of those delinquencies will end up in the foreclosure process in 2010 and beyond as lenders gradually work their way through the backlog."
More than 10% of Nevada housing units received at least one foreclosure filing in 2009, giving it the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the third consecutive year. Nevada foreclosure activity in December increased 27% from the previous month but was still down 22% from December 2008. Fourth-quarter foreclosure activity in Nevada was down 37% from the previous quarter due to substantial decreases in October and November, RealtyTrac says.
Arizona registered the nation's second highest state foreclosure rate in 2009, with more than 6% of its housing units receiving at least one foreclosure filing during the year, while Florida came in third, with 5.93% of its housing units receiving at least one foreclosure filing during the year.
Other states with 2009 foreclosure rates ranking among the nation's 10 highest were California (4.75%), Utah (2.93%), Idaho (2.72%), Georgia (2.68%), Michigan (2.61%), Illinois (2.5%), and Colorado (2.37%).