Default notices, auction sale notices, and actual bank repossessions were received  on a total of 1,961,894 homes, or one in every 78 households,  during the most recent six month period according to the Mid-Year 2010 U.S Foreclosure Market Report issued by RealtyTrac.

These findings represent a 5 percent decline in filings from the last half of 2009, but an increase of 8 percent from the first half of last year.  Perhaps the good news is that the year-over-year change was almost totally due to a jump in bank repossessions, which were up five percent while default and auction notices were down 10.4 percent since the first half of last year.

In June there were a total of 313,841 filings, a decrease of nearly 3 percent from May and down nearly 7 percent from the previous June.  It was the sixteenth straight month where the total number of properties with foreclosure filings exceeded 300,000.

RealtyTrac’s report incorporates documents filed in all three phases of foreclosure, unfortunately the mid-year review did not break down the data into individual categories (but we're building our own spreadsheet).

  1. Notice of Default (NOD) and Lis Pendens (LIS). This is the first legal notification from a lender that the borrower on a mortgage loan has defaulted under the terms of their mortgage and the lender intends to foreclose unless the loan is brought current.
  2. Auction — Notice of Trustee Sale and Notice of Foreclosure Sale (NTS and NFS); If the borrower does not catch up on their payments the lender will file a notice of sale (the lender intends to sell the property). This notice is published in local paper and contains information pertaining to the date, time and subject property address.
  3. Real Estate Owned or REO properties : "REO" stands for "real estate owned" and typically refers to the inventory of real estate that banks and mortgage companies have foreclosed on and subsequently purchased through the foreclosure auction if there was no offer higher than the minimum bid.

During the second quarter of 2010 there were foreclosure filings on 895,521 properties, down from 932,234 in the first quarter, a decrease of 4 percent.  This is 1 percent more filings than in the second quarter one year earlier.

 "The second quarter was a tale of two trends," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "The pace of properties entering foreclosure slowed as lenders pre-empted or delayed foreclosure proceedings on delinquent properties with more aggressive short sale and loan modification initiatives. Meanwhile the pace of properties completing the foreclosure process through bank repossession quickened as lenders cleared out a backlog of distressed inventory delayed by foreclosure prevention efforts in 2009.

"The midyear numbers put us on pace to exceed 3 million properties with foreclosure filings by the end of the year, and more than 1 million bank repossessions," Saccacio continued. "The roller coaster pattern of foreclosure activity over the past 12 months demonstrates that while the foreclosure problem is being managed on the surface, a massive number of distressed properties and underwater loans continue to sit just below the surface, threatening the fragile stability of the housing market."

As usual, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, California, and Utah topped the list of states in foreclosure activity.  In Nevada, one in 17 housing units (6 percent) received at least one foreclosure filing in the first six months of the year, down 6.2 percent from a year earlier and 13 percent from the last half of 2009.  In Arizona there were filings posted against one in 30 housing units, down 1.6 percent from the second half of 2009 and 1.88 year over year.  Florida follows with one in 32 homes in some stage of foreclosure, a decrease of 8.61 from the most recent half year and an increase of 3.4 percent from one year ago.  

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the nation's 10 highest were California (1 in 39 units), Utah (1 in 52), Georgia (1 in 56), Michigan (1 in 58), Idaho (1 in 59), Illinois (1 in 62), and Colorado (1 in 72.)

These were the thoughts MND shared regarding the May data. They are still very relevant...

Plain and Simple: The good news is it seems like the worst is behind us in terms of new defaults. Plus the modest decline in newly scheduled auctions helps out housing on the excess supply front as banks are choosing to hold onto their inventory instead of flood the market with distressed supply (which would drive prices even lower). Perhaps this is a factor of the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit? Now for the bad news. Over the past year, to give HAMP a chance to "work its magic" (which servicers have little incentive to do ) and to reduce the cost of maintaining the condition of foreclosed properties, banks were delaying the foreclosed home liquidation process. This allowed delinquent borrowers to stay in their houses and also allowed banks to avoid asset value write-downs. Unfortunately, with HAMP running out of qualified borrowers, that trend is starting to reverse course. Bank balance sheets are beginning to balloon with REO, shadow inventory is being converted to actual inventory!

This is a negative for two reasons. First it implies more people are being put out of their home and onto the street and second, at some point, the distressed homes banks are adding to their balance sheets will need to be put back up for sale. Once the housing market starts to pick up recovery momentum, banks will begin to slowly liquidate their inventory of foreclosed properties. Hopefully they will do so in a manner that does not greatly disrupt local supply/demand and push prices even lower (which would hurt their own cause). Growing "shadow inventory" is one of two reasons why the housing recovery will likely be a very long process (the other being long term unemployment).