In Depth Analysis: CalculatedRisk Newsletter on Real Estate (Ad Free) Read it here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

RealtyTrac: March Foreclosure Activity Highest on Record

by Calculated Risk on 4/15/2010 08:54:00 AM

From RealtyTrac: Foreclosure Activity Increases 7 Percent in First Quarter

RealtyTrac® ... today released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™ for Q1 2010, which shows that foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 932,234 properties in the first quarter, a 7 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 16 percent increase from the first quarter of 2009. One in every 138 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the quarter.

Foreclosure filings were reported on 367,056 properties in March, an increase of nearly 19 percent from the previous month, an increase of nearly 8 percent from March 2009 and the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in January 2005.

“Foreclosure activity in the first quarter of 2010 followed a very similar pattern to what we saw in the first quarter of 2009: a shallow trough in January and February followed by a substantial spike in March,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “One difference, however, is that the increases were more tilted toward the final stage of foreclosure, with REOs increasing 9 percent on a quarterly basis in the first quarter of 2010 compared to a 13 percent quarterly decrease in REOs in the first quarter of 2009.

“This subtle shift in the numbers pushed REOs to the highest quarterly total we’ve ever seen in our report and may be further evidence that lenders are starting to make a dent in the backlog of distressed inventory that has built up over the last year as foreclosure prevention programs and processing delays slowed down the normal foreclosure timeline.”
This is the highest monthly total - and highest quarterly total - since RealtyTrac started tracking foreclosures in 2005 (and that probably means this is the highest ever). Note that the initial stage filings (Notice of Default and Lis Pendens depending on the state) were flat with Q1 2009, but that later stage filings (of Trustee Sale and Notice of Foreclosure Sale and repossessions) surged:
Foreclosure auctions were scheduled for the first time on a total of 369,491 properties during the quarter, the highest quarterly total for scheduled auctions in the history of the report. Scheduled auctions increased 12 percent from the previous quarter and were up 21 percent from the first quarter of 2009.

Bank repossessions (REOs) also hit a record high for the report in the first quarter, with a total of 257,944 properties repossessed by the lender during the quarter — an increase of 9 percent from the previous quarter and an increase of 35 percent from the first quarter of 2009.
It appears that the banks are starting to clear out the foreclosure backlog.