Foreclosures Hit 44-Month Low

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Foreclosure activity fell to a 44-month low in July, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac, a firm that monitors the foreclosure market.

Foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions— were reported on a total of 212,764 properties last month, a 4% decrease from June and a 35% decrease from July 2010.

Rick Sharga, senior vice president of RealtyTrac, said that while the numbers still don’t represent an improvement in the housing market, they may now represent a “new normal.”

“Lenders may have decided that this is the pace that they would like to move these properties through the pipeline,” he told MainStreet.  Sharga attributed the slowdown to market saturation and not to the paperwork problems related to last year’s robo-signing controversy since numbers dropped in states that require judicial foreclosures.

“It’s relative to how much home buying is going on,” he says, explaining that banks and other financial institutions are not interested in repossessing properties that they won’t be able to readily sell. 

Bank repossessions were filed on a total of 67,829 properties in July, a 1% decrease from the previous month and a 27% decrease from July 2010. The total number of bank repossessions in July was 34% below the monthly peak of 102,134 in September 2010.

Sharga said the only thing that could cause the numbers go back to record-level highs, as opposed to lows, is “a return to higher levels of buying activity.”

If business does not pick up, he says, it could take two to three more years to get all of the distressed properties off the market.

State by state, Nevada continued to post the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate with one in every 115 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in July.  California posted the second-highest, with one in every 239 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing during the month, and Arizona was third with one in every 273 housing units entering foreclosure.

Other states with high foreclosure rates include Georgia, Utah, Florida, Michigan, Idaho, Illinois and Wisconsin.

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