Foreclosure activity was down on an annual basis for the 16th month in a row in January, but there are signs that activity is picking up in some states, according to a report from foreclosure data aggregator RealtyTrac.

A total of 210,941 U.S. properties, or 1 in 624 housing units, received a foreclosure filing — default notice, scheduled auction or bank repossession — in January. That’s a nearly 3 percent increase from December, but a 19 percent decrease compared to January 2011.

"Although overall foreclosure activity was down from a year ago for the 16th straight month in January, we continue to see signs on a local and regional level that the frozen-up foreclosure process is beginning to thaw," said Brandon Moore, RealtyTrac’s CEO, in a statement.

"Foreclosure activity increased on a year-over-year basis for the first time in more than 12 months in FloridaIllinoisIndiana and Pennsylvania, following a pattern we saw in late 2011 in states such as CaliforniaArizona and Massachusetts.

"We expect the pattern of increasing foreclosures to continue in the coming months, especially given the finalized mortgage and foreclosure settlement reached in early February between 49 state attorneys general and five of the nation’s largest lenders.

The settlement sets forth clear guidelines for lenders and servicers to follow when foreclosing, which should allow them to push through some of the delayed foreclosures from last year."

RealtyTrac anticipates there will be 1 million completed foreclosures in 2012 — a 25 percent increase from 2011. Completed foreclosures fell by nearly 25 percent last year, according to a report from data and analytics firm CoreLogic.

RealtyTrac’s Moore added, "Other roadblocks to foreclosure are still in place at the state level, however, including legislation altering the foreclosure process and lawsuits against lenders. We expect to see somewhat uneven trends in local and regional foreclosure numbers going forward as lenders work through these additional legislative and legal roadblocks." 


Source: RealtyTrac.

A total of 58,362 U.S. properties received a default notice in January, flat from the month before but a 22 percent decline from January 2011.

Several states saw default notices rise by more than 20 percent year over year, including Connecticut (23 percent), Massachusetts (27 percent), Florida (36 percent), Maryland (100 percent) and Pennsylvania (112 percent), the report said.

Scheduled auctions rose a slight one percent month to month, but fell 20 percent year over year in January, to 86,037. 

Some states saw scheduled auctions jump by more than 20 percent on an annual basis, including Minnesota (24 percent), Massachusetts (57 percent), South Carolina (79 percent), Indiana (141 percent) and Illinois (141 percent), the report said.

Bank repossessions (REOs) saw the biggest monthly increase and the smallest yearly decrease among the three categories of foreclosure activity. Lenders took back a total of 66,542 U.S. properties in January, up 8 percent from December and down 15 percent from January 2011.

REO activity rose at least 30 percent compared to a year ago in a number of states, including Wisconsin (30 percent), Connecticut (39 percent), Illinois (52 percent), Indiana (60 percent), New Hampshire (62 percent) and Massachusetts (75 percent), the report revealed.

Nevada’s foreclosure rate was at a 52-month low in January, but the state still posted the nation’s highest foreclosure rate for the 61st straight month. One in every 198 housing units, or 5,931 properties in the state, received a foreclosure filing last month, down 52 percent year over year.

California had the nation’s second-highest foreclosure activity rate in January. A total of 51,584 properties, or 1 in 265 units, received a foreclosure filing last month — a 23 percent annual decrease and a 50-month low for the state.

Arizona’s foreclosure activity was down 44 percent from January 2011, but the state nonetheless posted the nation’s third-highest foreclosure activity rate: 1 in 325 units, or 8,749 properties.

The double-digit annual drops in activity for all three of the top states were driven by a decrease in foreclosure starts last month (a decline in default notices in Nevada and California, and scheduled auctions in Arizona).

Top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates:

Area Foreclosure rate (January 2012)
U.S. 1 in 624 housing units
Nevada  1 in 198
California 1 in 265
Arizona 1 in 325
Georgia 1 in 328
Michigan 1 in 354
Florida 1 in 363
Illinois 1 in 369
Delaware 1 in 373
Colorado 1 in 523
Indiana 1 in 555

Source: RealtyTrac

California metros accounted for 11 of the 20 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in the country in January, including nine of the top 10 spots. Only four of the top 20 saw year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity, RealtyTrac said: Lansing-East Lansing, Mich. (up 20 percent); Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla. (up 55 percent); Chicago (up 13 percent); and Miami (up 21 percent).

U.S. metros with highest foreclosure rate

Metro area Foreclosure rate (January 2012)
Stockton, Calif. 1 in 140 housing units
Modesto, Calif. 1 in 143
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. 1 in 164
Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. 1 in 168
Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. 1 in 172
Bakersfield, Calif. 1 in 199
Sacramento, Calif. 1 in 209
Merced, Calif. 1 in 215
Fresno, Calif. 1 in 235
Visalia-Porterville, Calif. 1 in 236
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif. 1 in 246
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. 1 in 250
Lansing-East Lansing, Mich. 1 in 258
Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla. 1 in 266
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. 1 in 270
Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. 1 in 275
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.  1 in 276
Reno-Sparks, Nev. 1 in 281
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla. 1 in 290
Salinas, Calif. 1 in 298

Source: RealtyTrac.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
It's not too late to join us for Connect Now today. Participate in workshops, networking and more.REGISTER×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription