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Foreclosure concentration December 2010According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, the number of foreclosure filings nationwide dropped for the second straight month in December. After falling 21 percent in November, filings were down by an additional 2 percent in December.

“Foreclosure filing” is a catch-all term, comprising default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions.

Like most months, a small number of states dominated December’s national foreclosure figures. 6 states accounted for more than 50 percent of all bank repossessions.

  1. California : 17% of all repossessions
  2. Florida : 11% of all repossessions
  3. Arizona : 6% of all repossessions
  4. Michigan : 6% of all repossessions
  5. Texas : 6% of all repossessions
  6. Nevada : 4% of all repossessions

December’s foreclosure filings fell to its lowest levels since June 2008, but we can’t read into the report too much just yet. Foreclosure volume continue to be dampened by lawsuits and moratoriums related to controversy surrounding the so-called robo-signers.

Foreclosure activity may have lessened in December anyway, but we can’t know for certain.

Distressed properties are in high demand among home buyers, accounting for one-third of all home sales; typically sold at a steep, 15 percent discount as compared to non-distressed properties.

Buying foreclosures can be a terrific “deal”, whether for the end homeowner, or an investor planning to rehab and resell.

Foreclosures per household, November 2010

According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, the foreclosure filings fell 21 percent in November to 262,339 units nationwide. A foreclosure filing is defined as default notice, scheduled auction, or bank repossession.

November marked the first time since February 2009 that the number of monthly filings failed to surpass 300,000 units.

There were other notable November statistics, too, included:

  • November’s 21 percent month-to-month decrease was the largest in RealtyTrac’s recorded history
  • November’s 14 percent year-to-year decrease was the largest in RealtyTrac’s recorded history
  • Nevada led the nation in foreclosure activity for the 47th straight month

However, we can’t read into November’s RealtyTrac report too much; ultimately, history may treat it with an asterisk. Controversy surrounding the so-called robo-signers forced some of the biggest banks to institute a temporary halt to foreclosures in November. Foreclosure activity did fall last month, but the moratorium makes the figures look better for housing than if there had been no interference.

The halt in foreclosures is also why Utah leaped into the #2 state for foreclosures nationwide. Perennial foreclosure-leading states like California, Michigan and Arizona posted double-digit improvements in November whereas Utah did not.

Banks have since resumed foreclosure activity so December’s results may be a better gauge for how the market is truly performing.

Foreclosures tend to be sold at discount and low home prices can entice home buyers to make an offer. If you’re such a buyer and want to look at foreclosed homes, talk to a real estate agent first.

Although there’s a host of online search engines that specialize in foreclosures, a licensed agent may have access to broader inventory, plus the ability to negotiate it more effectively.

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.

Foreclosures by Metro Area, Q3 2010

Foreclosures are a big part of the housing market, with distressed properties accounting for 35 percent of all home resales last month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

But for as common as foreclosures can be, they remain a localized concern. Data from foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac shows that more than half of last quarter’s foreclosures came from just 19 metropolitan areas, with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale are accountable for the largest number of filings.

A “foreclosure filing” is defined as a default notice, scheduled auction, or bank repossession.

On a per-household basis last quarter, the Las Vegas area was hardest hit. 1 in every 25 households received some form of foreclosure notice.

The RealtyTrac report features other interesting figures, too:

  • California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada account for the top 10, and19 of the top 20 metro areas for foreclosures
  • Compared to Q3 2009, foreclosure activity dropped in 72 metro areas, including No. 2 Cape Coral/Fort Myers, FL
  • Foreclosure activity dropped 1 percent from Q3 2009 in the nation’s 20 most-populated cities

And, despite a 27 percent increase in foreclosures from the second quarter, Utica/Rome, NY posted the lowest foreclosure rate in the nation — 1 for every 8,003 households.  The next closest city, Charleston, WV, posted 1 for every 2,600 households, by comparison.

Foreclosures, like everything in real estate, are local. And buying them is “different” from buying a typical home resale. If you’re planning to buy a foreclosed home, speak with a real estate agent with specific experience with homes in foreclosure. Professional advice is helpful.

Foreclosure concentration, by state (September 2010)The number of foreclosure filings rose 3 percent in September, according to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac. The term “foreclosure filing” is a catch-all word for housing, comprising default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions.

September marked the 19th straight month that the number of filings topped 300,000, and the first month in which 100,000 repossessions were logged.

As usual, a small number of states dominated the national foreclosure figures, accounting for more than half of all repossessions.

  1. California : 17% of all repossessions
  2. Florida : 13% of all repossessions
  3. Michigan : 7% of all repossessions
  4. Arizona : 7% of all repossessions
  5. Texas : 5% of all repossessions
  6. Georgia : 5% of all repossessions

Thankfully for home sellers, mortgage servicers appear to be metering the pace at these newly bank-owned homes are made available to the public. RealtyTrac notes that, in doing so, servicers prevent “the further erosion of home prices”.

That said, distressed properties still sell at a steep discount.

In the second quarter of 2010, the average sale price of homes in the foreclosure process was 26 percent lower than the average sale price of homes not in the foreclosure process. It’s no surprise, therefore, that, based on RealtyTrac’s preliminary data, 31 percent of all homes sold in September were “distressed”.

There’s lot of good deals out there, in other words, but they come with certain risks.  Real estate investors are sometimes buying to fix up and resell, and the pace of foreclosures is driving down the sales price of retail purchases also.  In MA and NH, even when you price a finished home below the comps in the area, you can still take a steep discount when it comes to finding a buyer.  They are picky, and they have a lot to choose from.  So be sure you take all your costs into account when making your offers.

Foreclosures per capita, August 2010

Pro’s and Con’s here for real estate investors.  More foreclosures make buying easier, but a plummeting market makes the back-end sale tougher.  So this is generally good news……

According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, the number of foreclosure filings climbed 4 percent in August from the month prior. A foreclosure filing is defined as default notice, scheduled auction, or bank repossession.

Despite the number of filings surpassing 300,000 for the 18th straight month, RealtyTrac’s report shows some bright spots for housing.

  1. The number of default notices served per month fell for the 7th time this year
  2. Foreclosure activity in Nevada, the nation’s leading foreclosure state, is down 25% from last August
  3. Foreclosure activity has not materially increased since early-2009, pointing to a stabilization

In addition, each of the 10 leading metro areas for foreclosures posted year-over-year declines for the second month in a row.

But, perhaps, most important, is that mortgage lenders and servicers appear to be managing their REO more effectively, making properties available for sale at a measured pace as opposed to flooding markets with new homes.  As noted by RealtyTrac, the probable reason is “to prevent further erosion of home prices”.

For home sellers, it’s a welcome development.

Foreclosures have had a hand in falling home values in Massachusetts and across the country. And, although it’s self-serving for banks to meter the release of homes under ownership, everyday homeowners benefit, too.  Fewer homes on the market helps to provide a floor for housing values.