RealtyTrac: Despite Some ‘Outliers,’ Foreclosure Activity Fell In First Half

A total of 253,408 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in the first half of this year – down 17% from the first half of 2015, according to RealtyTrac’s first half foreclosure report.

Starts in the first half were the lowest level for any half-year period since RealtyTrac began tracking them in 2006.

Counter to the national trend, 13 states and the District of Columbia posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure starts, including Connecticut (up 91%), Massachusetts (up 35%), Arizona (up 12%), Ohio (up 10%) and Virginia (up 6%).

There were about 197,425 completed foreclosures in the first half of 2016, down 6% from a year ago, but still 48% above the pre-recession average of 133,391 per half-year.

Counter to the national trend, 26 states and the District of Columbia posted year-over-year increases in completed foreclosures, including Alabama (up 73%); New York (up 65%); New Jersey (up 56%); Massachusetts (up 43%); and Virginia up 37%).

There were a total of 227,473 foreclosure auctions in the first half, down 23% from a year earlier. About 27% of these properties were purchased by third-party investors, the highest share for the first six months of any year since 2000 (the earliest national data available), RealtyTrac says.

Looking all foreclosure activity – including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – a total of 533,813 properties saw foreclosure filings of some sort during the first half. That’s down 11% from the first half of 2015 and down 20% from the second half of 2015.

Counter to the national trend, 19 states posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in the first half, including Massachusetts (up 46%); Connecticut (up 40%); Virginia (up 18%); Alabama (up 11%); and New York (up 10%).

“Although there are some local outliers, the downward foreclosure trend continued in the first half of 2016 in most markets nationwide,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac, in a statement. “While U.S. foreclosure activity is still above its pre-recession levels, many of the states hit hardest by the housing crisis have now dropped below pre-recession foreclosure activity levels. With some exceptions, states with foreclosure activity continuing to run above pre-recession levels tend to be those with protracted foreclosure timelines still working through legacy distress from the last housing bust.”

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