released both its September and third quarter data on foreclosure activity on
Thursday. A total of 109,130
U.S. properties had foreclosure filings in September 2015, down less than 1
percent from the previous month but up 2 percent from a year ago. U.S.
foreclosure activity has increased on a year-over-year basis in six of the last
The company tracks first-time filing of default notices,
scheduled foreclosure auctions, and bank repossessions or completed
foreclosures. Given how marginal the monthly
changes have become we are reporting detailed breakdowns only for the quarterly
data. Overall foreclosure fillings over
that three month period that ended September 30 were down 5 percent compared to
the second quarter and was 3 percent higher than in the third quarter of 2014.
The annual increase in the third
quarter marked the second consecutive quarter where U.S. foreclosure activity
increased on a year-over-year basis following 19 consecutive quarters of
year-over-year decreases. Total filings
during the quarter were at the rate of one in every 404 U.S. housing units.
The foreclosure process was begun
during the quarter on 133,811 U.S. properties, a decrease of 12 percent from
the previous quarter and 14 percent from a year earlier. It was the fewest foreclosure starts in any
quarter since 2005.
Completed foreclosures totaled 123,040
during the quarter, 1 percent fewer than in the second quarter but a whopping
66 percent above the same quarter in 2014, the largest increase in lender
repossessions since RealtyTrac began tracking them in 2008.
"The widespread rise in foreclosure
activity in the third quarter compared to a year ago is the result of two
starkly different trends taking place," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at
RealtyTrac. "In states such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York, a flood
of deferred distress from the last housing crisis is finally spilling over the
legislative and legal dams that have held back some foreclosure activity for
years. That deferred distress often represents properties with deferred
maintenance that will sell at more deeply discounted prices, creating a drag on
overall home values. On the other hand, in states such as Texas, Michigan and
Washington, the third quarter increases are a sign that the foreclosure market
has settled into a normalized pattern close to or even below pre-crisis levels,
and in those states the overall housing market should easily absorb the
additional foreclosure activity with little impact on home values."
Florida finally lost its grip on the
top spot among states for foreclosure activity, slipping to second place behind
New Jersey. Activity in the Garden State
increased 27 percent from a year ago giving it a foreclosure rate of one filing
for every 171 housing units, more than twice the national average. Foreclosure starts decreased by 28 percent
from a year ago but scheduled foreclosure auctions increased 61 percent, and
bank repossessions jumped 351 percent.
Perversely the last two figures are actually positive developments. New Jersey, a judicial foreclosure state, has
had one of the longest foreclosure timelines in the country and a tremendous
foreclosure backlog. These numbers are
likely an indication the pipeline is finally starting to clear in earnest.
Overall foreclosure activity in Florida
was down 17 percent from the third quarter of 2014 to a rate of one in every
186 housing units. Starts decreased 28
percent and scheduled foreclosure auctions were down 46 percent year-over-year but
third quarter bank repossessions increased 34 percent year-over-year.
The third highest level of foreclosure
activity was in Nevada - up 13 percent from a year ago - with a rate of one in
every 194 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing. Nevada
foreclosure starts decreased 14 percent from a year ago, and scheduled auctions
were down 14 percent, but bank repossessions in Nevada increased 255 percent
from a year earlier. Rounding out the top five states were Maryland with one
filing for every 220 households and Illinois at one in 281.
With one in every 97 housing units with
a foreclosure filing Atlantic City, New Jersey, posted the nation's highest
foreclosure rate in the third quarter among metropolitan statistical areas with
a population of 200,000 or more. The
remaining states in the top five were all in Florida, Jacksonville, Deltona
Beach, Tampa, and Miami.