Foreclosure activity down 32% year over year

Julie Schmit, USA TODAY 7:42 p.m. EDT August 15, 2013

Foreclosure activity nationally is well below a year ago, but it’s still a problem in some states

The nation’s foreclosure crisis continues to abate, but some states still have a long way to go.

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Foreclosure filings last month — including default notices, auctions and bank repossessions — increased 2% from their 78-month low in June but were still down 32% from a year ago, market researcher RealtyTrac says.

Foreclosure starts — the beginning of the process — were up 6% from June but 38% lower year over year.

While down nationwide, foreclosure starts actually increased from a year ago in 15 states.

Foreclosures are continuing to “boil over” in a few markets where state laws and court rulings delayed activity for years, but those “markets are becoming fewer and farther between,” says Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president.

Year over year, foreclosure starts were up 275% in Maryland, 137% in Oregon, 89% in New Jersey, 37% in Connecticut and 27% in New York.

Overall, foreclosure activity in July touched almost 131,000 homes. That’s down 64% from the peak in early 2010, but still 54% above the average monthly foreclosure activity before the 2006 housing bust.

Based on the declining pace of foreclosure activity over the past 40 months, it’ll be early 2015 before national foreclosure activity returns to its pre-housing bust average, Blomquist says.

However, a dozen states are already at or below those earlier foreclosure levels, RealtyTrac’s data show.

Those states include Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, places where housing prices didn’t fall nearly as far as in other states and where stronger economies have helped a housing recovery.

Florida is still far from the foreclosure levels it had before the housing bust. In July, it led the nation with 1 in 328 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing — more than three times the national average, RealtyTrac says.

What’s more, nine of the nation’s 10 highest metro foreclosure rates in July were in Florida, a state where foreclosures involve court oversight. Five of those metropolitan areas posted more foreclosure activity than a year ago, the data shows.

Foreclosure activity in some Western states that were once at the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis is fading.

In July, for the first time since early 2007, Arizona fell out of the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates. California was out of the top 10 for the sixth consecutive month, RealtyTrac says.

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