U.S. foreclosures continued to decline last year, reaching an eight-year low, according to foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. , falling to levels not seen since the beginning of the housing crash.
RealtyTrac found that there were 1.12 million homes in 2014 with foreclosures filings – default notices, scheduled and bank repossessions – an 18 percent decrease from 2013 and a 61 percent dive from the 2010 peak. One out of every 118 American housing units receiving a filing. That’s the first time the annual foreclosure rate have been below one percent since 2006.
Foreclosure starts fell across the country by 14 percent from 2013, falling to a total of 643,193. That was the lowest level since 2006 and a 70 percent drop from the most Great Recession peak in 2009.
The number of homes actually repossessed by lenders in 2014 fell to 327,068, a 29 percent drop from the previous year. Compared with the mortgage meltdown peak of 1,050,500, repossessions were down 69 percent.
“Foreclosures are no longer a threat to home values nationwide,” Blomquist said. That’s great news for the nearly 10 percent of all homeowners who are still underwater –owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth – as the abundance of discounted foreclosures pulled home prices down for many years. With few distressed properties available, home values have a much easier time appreciating.
Nine states still saw their foreclosure stats increase in 2014. Among those the top included several judicial review states like Massachusetts where foreclosure starts surged 323 percent in December from the year before. Vermont saw a 300 percent increase and New Jersey experienced a 262 percent rise.
“The U.S. foreclosure numbers in 2014 show a foreclosure market that is close to finding a floor and stabilizing at a historically normal level,” said Daren Blomquist vice president at RealtyTrac. “But a recent surge in foreclosure starts and scheduled foreclosure auctions in several states in the last few months of 2014 indicate that lenders are gearing up for a spring cleaning of deferred distress in the first half of 2015 in some local markets.”