Foreclosure filings were reported on 152,500 U.S. properties in March, a decrease of 1% from the previous month and down 23% from March 2012, according to new data from Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac. The decrease in March helped drop first quarter foreclosure numbers to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2007 – foreclosure filings were reported on 442,117 U.S. properties in the first quarter, down 12% from the previous quarter and down 23% from the first quarter of 2012.
However, U.S. foreclosure starts increased 2% from February to March, the second straight monthly increase following three consecutive monthly decreases. There were a total of 73,113 foreclosure starts nationwide in March, down 28% from a year ago. Foreclosure starts in March increased from the previous month in 23 states and were up annually in 12 states, led by New York (200% increase), Maryland (193% increase), Washington (154% increase), Arkansas (101% increase) and Nevada (88% increase).
Lenders repossessed 43,597 properties nationwide in March, the lowest since September 2007. U.S. bank repossessions in March decreased 3% from February and were down 21% from a year ago.
The Sunshine State was the leader in foreclosure activity: There were a total of 85,671 Florida properties with foreclosure filings in the first quarter, the most of any state and one in every 104 housing units – the nation's highest state foreclosure rate and nearly three times the national average of one in every 296 housing units. Florida foreclosure activity in the first quarter increased 7% from the previous quarter and was up 17% from the first quarter of 2012.
‘Although the overall national foreclosure trend continues to head lower, late-blooming foreclosures are bolting higher in some local markets where aggressive foreclosure prevention efforts in previous years are wearing off,’ says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. ‘Meanwhile, more recent foreclosure prevention efforts in other states have drastically increased the average time to foreclose, which could result in a similar outbreak of delayed foreclosures down the road in those states.’