LOS ANGELES - The number of U.S. homes entering the path to foreclosure or winding up repossessed by lenders has fallen to levels not seen in more than six years.
While foreclosures remain a concern in
select states, the trend is the latest sign foreclosures are becoming less of a
national factor on the housing recovery and more of a state and
Lenders initiated foreclosure action
against 52,826 U.S. homes in November, down 10 percent from the previous month
and a drop of 32 percent from November last year, according to new data from
foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc.
The last time the tally of monthly
foreclosure starts was lower was in December 2005, the firm said.
Foreclosure starts increased last
month on an annual basis in 15 states, including Pennsylvania, Delaware,
Maryland and Oregon.
While fewer homes entered the
foreclosure pipeline in November, the number of homes completing the
foreclosure process also declined.
All told, lenders took back 30,461
homes last month, down 19 percent from October and a decline of 48 percent from
November last year, RealtyTrac said.
Overall, completed foreclosures sank
to the lowest level since July 2007, the firm said.
The number of homes repossessed by
banks increased on an annual basis in only five states: Delaware, Maryland,
Connecticut, Maine and Iowa - all states where the courts must sign off on
foreclosures, a factor that typically draws out the process longer than in
Some of the decline in foreclosure
activity last month was due to a seasonal slowdown as the end of the year draws
near. That could mean a bump in homes sold at auction or repossessed by banks
early next year, said Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac.
"Regionally and locally, there
are going to be some jumps in foreclosure numbers in 2014, but nothing we
anticipate will threaten the housing recovery," Blomquist said. "It's
very safe to say that the foreclosure crisis is over and behind us."
The decline in foreclosures has come
about as more homeowners are keeping up with their mortgage payments. At the
same time, the U.S. housing market has emerged from a deep slump, aided by
rising home prices, steady job growth and fewer troubled loans dating back to
the housing-bubble days.
At the end of November, 734,205 U.S.
homes were in some stage of the foreclosure process, down 24 percent from a
year earlier. Another 503,577 homes were bank-owned, but not yet sold. That's
down from 18 percent from November last year, the firm said.
Some 70 percent of all homes in some
stage of foreclosure are tied to mortgages that were taken out between 2004 and
At their monthly pace through the
first 11 months of the year, completed foreclosures are on track to total
470,000 this year, down 30 percent from last year, Blomquist said.
Foreclosures peaked in 2010 at 1.05
million and have been declining ever since.
At the state level, Florida had the
highest foreclosure rate in the nation last month, with one in every 392
households in some stage of foreclosure. Even so, the number of homes in the
state that entered the foreclosure process fell 46 percent from a year ago,
while homes taken back by lenders declined 16 percent.
Rounding out the top 10 states by
foreclosure rate were Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina, Illinois, Ohio,
Connecticut, Nevada, Iowa and Utah.