As housing markets continued to recover and with spring buying season just around the corner, repossessions of homes in February plunged to a 65-month low, RealtyTrac reports.
The number of homes entering real-estate owned (REO) inventory fell to 45,038 in February, down 11 percent from January, according to RealtyTrac’s February 2013 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report. Year-over-year, the number of homes repossessed plunged 29 percent, to the lowest level since September 2007, RealtyTrac said.
The report also found that overall foreclosure-related filings — which, in addition to repossessions, include notices of default and auction notices — clocked in at 154,281, up 2 percent from January, but down 25 percent from a year earlier.
"At a high level the U.S. foreclosure inferno has been effectively contained and should be reduced to a slow burn in the next two years," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.
Even so, Blomquist noted that notices of default — which initiate the foreclosure process — actually rose nationally in February, increasing 10 percent from January after three consecutive months of declines. The increase was sharper in "judicial foreclosure" states, where courts continue to work through backlogs of foreclosures, Blomquist said.
At a national level, foreclosure starts rose from last month in 32 states, but only 16 states saw annual increases, the report said.
Nevada, Maryland and Washington experienced the highest year-over-year climbs in foreclosure starts, posting respective increases of 334 percent, 319 percent and 172 percent. Despite flare-ups in some states, foreclosure starts in February were still down 25 percent from a year ago for the nation as a whole, RealtyTrac said.
Florida posted the highest foreclosure rate for the sixth month in a row in February, with one in every 282 housing units hit with a foreclosure-related filing, RealtyTrac said. There were a total of 31,726 filings in that state in February, marking a 20 percent year-over-year increase. Seven of the 10 cities with the highest foreclosure rates in February were in Florida.