• In new RealtyTrac numbers, 2015 ended on a high note for foreclosures, and things only got better in January.
  • In Chicagoland, the metro ranked 35th in the country for foreclosures.
  • The only areas in the nation with rising foreclosure rates are experiencing localized economic problems.

According to recent data provided by RealtyTrac, the foreclosure crisis in America is well on its way to being over.

While there are certainly still pockets where foreclosures are still taking place, the mass casualties are over.

Expressed as a percentage of all the homes in the U.S., 0.82 percent of all U.S. housing units (one in every 122) had at least one foreclosure filing in 2015. That’s the second consecutive year where the annual foreclosure rate has been below 1 percent of all U.S. housing units.

And, things are looking good for Chicagoland.

Foreclosure starts across the country reached a 10-year low in 2015.

A total of 569,835 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in 2015, down 11 percent from 2014 and down 73 percent from the peak of more than 2.1 million foreclosure starts in 2009.

The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA ranked 35th in the country when foreclosures are measured versus the number of overall housing units in an MSA. The ranking is measured by comparing all the states/counties in state/top MSAs RealtyTrac counts, which are MSAs with a population of 200,000 or more. The smaller the number, the higher the foreclosure rate.

U.S. foreclosure starts in December were down 30 percent from a year ago — the sixth consecutive month with an annual decrease in foreclosure starts — while U.S. bank repossessions (REOs) in December increased 65 percent from a year ago — the 10th consecutive month with an annual increase in REOs.

It looked even better in January for Chicago, with foreclosures off 10.57 percent over what they were in December. Year-over-year, foreclosures were off a whopping 37.82 percent.

Percentages like those matter in a metro as large as Chicagoland. In total there were 4,079 homes in foreclosure. But, there will always be some amount of foreclosure activity in even a normal market.

“In 2015 we saw a return to normal, healthy foreclosure activity in many markets even as banks continued to clean up some of the last vestiges of distress left over from the last housing crisis,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a statement.

“The increase in bank repossessions that we saw for the year was evidence of this cleanup phase, which largely involves completing foreclosure on highly distressed, low value properties.”

“Meanwhile, local economic problems became a larger driver of foreclosure activity in 2015,” Blomquist continued. “Examples of this are Atlantic City, New Jersey, which posted the nation’s highest metro foreclosure rate for the year, along with several heavy oil-producing markets in Texas and Oklahoma where foreclosure activity increased in 2015, counter to the national trend.”

So the country as a whole can breathe a sigh of relief that the foreclosure pall is no longer over the country. Some metros, have local economic issues to deal with. Fortunately, Chicago is not one of those metros.

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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