Thursday, February 14, 2013

Report: U.S. Foreclosure Starts Decline in January due to new California Law

by Bill McBride on 2/14/2013 10:18:00 AM

From RealtyTrac: U.S. Foreclosure Starts Fall to Six-Year Low in January

RealtyTrac® ... today released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™ for January 2013, which shows foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 150,864 U.S. properties in January, a decrease of 7 percent from the previous month and down 28 percent from January 2012.

“The U.S. foreclosure landscape in January was profoundly altered by the effects of new legislation that took effect in California on the first of the year,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Dubbed the Homeowners Bill of Rights, this legislation extends many of the principles in the national mortgage settlement — including a prohibition on so-called dual tracking and requiring a single point of contact for borrowers facing foreclosure — to all mortgage servicers operating in California. In addition the new law imposes fines of up to $7,500 per loan for filing of multiple unverified foreclosure documents. As a result, the downward foreclosure trend in California accelerated into hyper speed in January, decisively shifting the balance of power when it comes to the nation’s foreclosure activity.

“For the first time since January 2007 California did not have the most properties with foreclosure filings of any state. Instead that dubious distinction went to Florida, where January foreclosure activity increased on an annual basis for the 11th time in the last 13 months.”

The national decrease in foreclosure starts was caused in large part by a sharp drop in California notices of default (NOD) in January, down 62 percent from December and down 75 percent from January 2012 to the lowest level since October 2005.

Scheduled foreclosure auctions increased from the previous month in 26 states and the District of Columbia, hitting 12-month or more highs in several key judicial foreclosure states, including Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, although foreclosure starts were down on a year-over-year basis in Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
This is a tale of different states, and different laws. Mostly the non-judicial states are resolving delinquent mortgages quicker since foreclosures don't have to go through the court system. However new laws - like the "Homeowners Bill of Rights" in California - are dramatically slowing foreclosures in some non-judicial states.

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