Foreclosure filings were reported on 150,864 U.S. properties – one in every 869 housing units – in January, a decrease of 7% from the previous month and down 28% from January 2012, according to data released by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac.
During January, foreclosure starts were down 11% from the previous month and down 28% from a year ago to the lowest level since June 2006. Bank repossessions (REO) decreased 5% from the previous month and were down 24% from January 2012 to the lowest level since February 2008.
Florida posted the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the fifth month in a row in January and also had the highest number of properties with foreclosure filings. On a metropolitan level, Florida cities accounted for six of top 10 metro foreclosure rates in January.
Last month was also the first time since January 2007 that California did not have the highest number of properties with foreclosure filings. RealtyTrac partially attributes the national decrease in foreclosure starts to a sharp drop in California notices of default in January, which was down 62% from December and down 75% from January 2012 to the lowest level since October 2005.
‘The U.S. foreclosure landscape in January was profoundly altered by the effects of new legislation that took effect in California on the first of the year,’ says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. ‘Dubbed the Homeowners Bill of Rights, this legislation extends many of the principles in the national mortgage settlement – including a prohibition on so-called dual tracking and requiring a single point of contact for borrowers facing foreclosure – to all mortgage servicers operating in California. In addition, the new law imposes fines of up to $7,500 per loan for filing of multiple unverified foreclosure documents. As a result, the downward foreclosure trend in California accelerated into hyper speed in January, decisively shifting the balance of power when it comes to the nation's foreclosure activity.’