Foreclosure Starts Fall to 10-Year Low

The number of new mortgage foreclosures fell to a decade-long low during the first half of 2015, according to a new report from foreclosure data firm RealtyTrac.

In its Midyear 2015 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, RealtyTrac reported that there were 304,439 properties that entered the foreclosure process during the first six months of this year, a 4 percent decrease from the previous year and the lowest number on record in the survey’s almost 10-year history. Compared with the first half of 2006, before the housing bubble burst, this year’s new foreclosures starts are down 18 percent.

“U.S. foreclosure starts have not only returned to pre-housing crisis levels, they have fallen well below those pre-crisis levels and are still searching for a floor, down 4 percent from a year ago,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Loans originated in the last five years continue to perform better than historic norms, with tighter lending standards and more cautious borrower behavior acting as important guardrails for the real estate boom of the past three years.”

Total foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – fell in the first half of 2015 to 597,589 properties, down 13 percent from the previous six months and down 3 percent from a year ago.

While the number of properties beginning the foreclosure process is falling, those already in the foreclosure are taking longer than ever to work through the system. Those completed in the 2015 second quarter had been in foreclosure for an average of 629 days, the longest time since RealtyTrac began tracking foreclosure timelines in the first quarter of 2007.

Foreclosure rates continue to be a problem for several states, especially those where all foreclosures must be reviewed by a judge before completion. Florida had the highest national foreclosure rate in the first half of 2015 with one in every 95 homes receiving a foreclosure filing. New Jersey was next with one out of every 109 households in foreclosure, Maryland essentially tied New Jersey at one in every 109, Nevada had one in every 126 homes in foreclosure and Illinois took the number 5 spot with one in every 135 homes receiving a foreclosure notice.

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