Foreclosure sales bounced back in January in five Western states to levels not seen since robo-signing moratoriums went into effect last fall, data aggregator ForeclosureRadar said in issuing its latest monthly report.

There were significant increases in foreclosure sales in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, both in terms of properties that went back to the bank when no acceptable bids were put forward, and also in sales to third parties on the courthouse steps.

With the exception of Oregon, real estate-owned (REO) inventories of bank-owned properties swelled in January in the states where ForeclosureRadar tracks filings, as banks took back more homes than they sold.

In California, for example, banks repossessed 14,068 homes, up 51 percent from December. Sales to third parties were also up 53 percent, totaling 3,272. California’s REO inventory grew 3 percent from December, to 111,000, up 12 percent from a year ago, ForeclosureRadar said, with another 129,000 homes scheduled for auction.

Arizona saw a 56 percent increase in bank repossessions from December to January, with lenders taking back 6,156 homes. Sales to third parties were up 53 percent from December, to 1,383. Arizona’s REO inventory was up 6.5 percent from December, to 32,307, with another 56,243 homes scheduled for auction.

In Nevada, the number of homes going back to the bank was up 37 percent from December and 74 percent from a year ago, to 2,590. Sales to third parties jumped 44 percent from December, to 627. The state’s REO inventory grew by 3 percent from December and 21 percent from a year ago, totaling 15,929, ForeclosureRadar said. Another 16,579 homes were scheduled for auction, up 75 percent from a year ago.

Washington banks took back 1,830 homes in January, up 54 percent from December and 88 percent from a year ago. There were only 171 sales to third parties, a 23 percent increase from December but a 22 percent decrease from a year ago. REO inventories were up 7 percent from December and 62 percent from a year ago, totaling 12,130, with another 13,799 homes scheduled for auction.

In Oregon, lenders repossessed 451 homes in January, up 33 percent from December but down 36 percent from a year ago. Sales to third parties were up 70 percent from December, but totaled only 34, down 59 percent from a year ago.

REO inventories were down 2 percent from December, to 4,546, which represented a 29 percent increase from a year ago. Another 2,743 homes were scheduled for auction.

Sean O’Toole, CEO of, said that while the increases in foreclosure sales are significant, "we’ve seen larger surges after moratoriums or delays have played out in the past."

When California lawmakers placed additional requirements on loan servicers initiating foreclosure proceedings, for example, there was a temporary dip in notice of default filings followed by a surge "that far eclipsed any prior period."

Now, O’Toole said, after months of slow foreclosure sales, "we’ve simply returned to prior levels, which to me indicates banks remain reluctant to aggressively foreclose" even though the time it takes to foreclose is at or near record levels and large inventories of properties still scheduled for foreclosure sale.

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