The volume of foreclosure filings and starts during the first half of 2015 were down from the previous six months and from last year.

The volume of foreclosure filings and starts during the first half of 2015 was down from the previous six months and from last year.

According to RealtyTrac’s midyear foreclosure report, there were a total of 597,589 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings during the first half of the year — down 13 percent from the previous half and 3 percent from the same time last year.

A total of 304,439 properties started the foreclosure process during the first half, representing a 10-year low and a 4 percent drop from a year ago.

Foreclosure starts in the first half of the year were at or below their precrisis levels of 2006 in 19 states, including California, Florida, Arizona, Georgia and Illinois.

“Loans originated in the last five years continue to perform better than historic norms,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, citing tighter lending standards and more cautious borrower behavior as reasons for this performance.

As foreclosure starts declined, the number of properties completing the foreclosure process accelerated during the first half. A total of 209,281 properties were repossessed (REOs) by lenders in first half, up 20 percent from a year ago.

“Less-disciplined loans originated during the last housing boom continue to account for the majority of distress still hanging over the housing market,” Blomquist said, noting two-thirds of loans in foreclosure were originated between 2004 and 2008.

First-half bank REOs were above 2006 levels in 35 states, including California, Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Nevada.

Foreclosures completed in the second quarter of 2015 took an average of 629 days from the first public notice to process completion — the longest average time to foreclose since RealtyTrac began tracking data.

While overall foreclosure starts volume declined and more properties exited the process, eight of the nation’s 20 largest metros posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity during the first half.

Boston saw activity rise by 29 percent when compared to the first half of 2014. St. Louis and New York also saw noticeable upticks of 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Houston (19 percent), Dallas (19 percent) and Detroit (13 percent) round out the metros seeing double-digit increases in activity.

Metros that witnessed the biggest decreases in foreclosure activity during the first half included:

  • Miami (down 30 percent)
  • Riverside-San Bernardino, California (down 15 percent)
  • Seattle (down 14 percent)
  • Los Angeles (down 14 percent)
  • Phoenix (down 14 percent)

With 1.7 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing in the first half of 2015, Atlantic City, New Jersey, posted the nation’s highest foreclosure rate among metros with a population of at least 200,000.

Florida posted the highest foreclosure rate (1.06 percent) of any state in first half, followed by New Jersey (0.92 percent), Maryland (0.92 percent) and Nevada (0.74 percent).

Of note, eight Florida cities posted first-half foreclosure rates that ranked among the 10 highest in the nation, with foreclosure rates ranging from 0.97 percent to 1.22 percent:

  • Tampa
  • Lakeland
  • Jacksonville
  • Ocala
  • Miami
  • Orlando
  • Deltona-Daytona Beach
  • Crestview-Fort Walton Beach

States that saw the biggest increase in foreclosure activity during the first half 0f 2015 — when compared to the first half of 2014 — included Massachusetts (up 43 percent), New York (31 percent), New Jersey (24 percent), Texas (21 percent) and Michigan (17 percent).

In June alone, there were a total of 117,055 properties with foreclosure filings, down 8 percent from a 19-month high in May but still up 9 percent from a year ago. During June, 49,105 properties started the foreclosure process.

Email Erik Pisor.

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