RealtyTrac reports that foreclosure filings (i.e., default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions) fell 2% from January to February. More than 308,000 properties – or about one in every 418 housing units – received a foreclosure filing in February.
Year-over-year, filings during the month grew by only 6% – the smallest annual increase RealtyTrac has recorded since January 2006, when the data provider began calculating year-over-year trends. February also represented the 50th consecutive month of year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity.
"This leveling of the foreclosure trend is not necessarily evidence that fewer homeowners are in distress and at risk for foreclosure, but rather that foreclosure prevention programs, legislation and other processing delays are, in effect, capping monthly foreclosure activity – albeit at a historically high level that will likely continue for an extended period, says James J. Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac. "In addition, severe winter weather appears to have temporarily slowed the processing of foreclosure records in some Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states."
Default notices (notices of default and lis pendens) were reported on a total of 106,208 properties (a 3% increase from January), foreclosure auctions (notices of trustee's sale and notices of sheriff's sales) were scheduled for the first time on a total of 123,633 properties (a 1% decrease from January) and bank repossessions were reported on a total of 78,683 properties (a 10% decrease from January).
Nevada foreclosure activity decreased nearly 7% from the previous month and was down 30% from February 2009, but the state's foreclosure rate continued to rank the highest in the nation for the 38th month in a row. One in every 102 Nevada housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month – more than four times the national average, according to RealtyTrac.
Arizona and Florida documented nearly identical foreclosure rates, with one in every 163 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in both states. Despite a nearly 21% decrease in foreclosure activity from the previous month, Arizona's rate was statistically slightly higher than Florida's rate and ranked second highest among the states.
California's foreclosure rate ranked fourth highest among the states, with one in every 195 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing during the month, and Michigan's foreclosure rate ranked fifth highest among the states, with one in every 226 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing.
The six states with the most foreclosure activity accounted for 61% of the national total in February. California led the way, followed by Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Arizona.