Foreclosures, cumulative by state (October 2010)

According to October data from foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings topped 300,000 for the 20th straight month last month as 1 in every 389 U.S. homes received a foreclosure filing.

The generic term “foreclosure filing” is defined to include default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions. Versus the month prior, filings fell 4 percent, and as compared to October 2009, filings were essentially the same.

As usual, foreclosure density varied by region last month, with just 5 states accounting for close to half of the nation’s repossessed homes.

  • California : 14.8 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Florida : 14.4 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Michigan : 7.3 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Texas : 6.6 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Arizona : 6.0 percent of all bank repossessions

The other 45 states accounted for the remaining half.

It reminds us that, like everything else in real estate, foreclosures are local.

For today’s home buyers, though, foreclosures represent an interesting opportunity.

Homes bought in various stages of foreclosure are often less expensive than other, non-foreclosure homes and it’s one of the reasons why distressed home sales now represent 35 percent of all home resales.  But don’t confuse less expensive for less costly.  Foreclosed homes may also be in various stages of disrepair. Getting them into living condition can be expensive.

Your best real estate “deal”, therefore, may be that non-distressed home that’s in sound, move-in ready condition if you are a retail homebuyer.  But as investors, distressed homes are our greatest opportunity.