Fewer U.S. Homes Entered Foreclosure Track in 3Q

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
foreclosures third quarter homes housing market
John Moore/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- The number of U.S. homes set on the path to foreclosure slid to a seven-year low in the third quarter, reflecting a gradually improving housing market and fewer homeowners falling behind on mortgage payments.

Lenders initiated foreclosure action on 174,366 homes in the July-September period, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2006, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

Foreclosure starts declined 13 percent from the previous quarter and were down 39 percent from the third quarter last year, the firm said.

The national slowdown in foreclosure starts comes as the U.S. housing market continues to recover from a deep slump, a rebound driven by rising home prices, steady job growth and fewer troubled loans dating back to the housing bubble days. Fewer homes entering the foreclosure pipeline should translate into fewer properties that eventually end up lost to foreclosure.

"It's looking really good that there are not more coming into the pipeline," said Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac. "Barring any other economic shock to the system, we expect that to bode well going forward."

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Foreclosure starts fell on an annual basis in the third quarter in 38 states, including Colorado, Arizona, California and Illinois. They increased from a year earlier in 11 states, including Maryland, Oregon, New Jersey and Connecticut.

While fewer homes are entering the foreclosure process, lenders stepped up home repossessions, which led to a quarterly increase in homes lost to foreclosure.

Completed foreclosures rose 7 percent in the third quarter versus the April-June period, the firm said. Completed foreclosures were down 24 percent from the third quarter last year, however.

All told, 119,485 homes were taken back by lenders in the July-September quarter. That puts the nation on pace to end this year with roughly 507,497 completed foreclosures, or down about 24 percent from 2012's total.

Foreclosures peaked in 2010 at 1.05 million and have been declining ever since.

The number of homes taken back by banks in the third quarter climbed from the previous quarter in 26 states, including New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Virginia, RealtyTrac said.

Much of the quarterly increase in foreclosures came about in states where courts oversee the foreclosure process. Those courts were backed up with cases two years ago, but have been making progress working through their backlog.

Even so, it's taking longer for homes in many states to complete the foreclosure process.

In the third quarter, it took an average of 551 days, or 1.5 years, for a U.S. home to move from initial default status to ultimately being repossessed by the lender, the firm said.

That's up from an average of 526 days in the second quarter and an increase from 382 days in the third quarter of last year.

"It's a sign that we're still dealing with the wreckage of the last housing bust," Blomquist said.

In New York, it took an average of 1,037 days, or nearly three years, for the foreclosure process to run its course in the third quarter, the longest of any state. Maine clocked the shortest average time to foreclose at 160 days.

The impact of foreclosures remains sharply elevated in some states. Florida topped the nation with a foreclosure rate of more than twice the national average in the third quarter.

Rounding out the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates in the July-September period were: Nevada, Maryland, Illinois, Ohio, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Indiana and South Carolina.

9 Numbers That'll Tell You How the Economy's Really Doing
See Gallery
Fewer U.S. Homes Entered Foreclosure Track in 3Q
The gross domestic product measures the level of economic activity within a country. To figure the number, the Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the total consumption of goods and services by private individuals and businesses; the total investment in capital for producing goods and services; the total amount spent and consumed by federal, state, and local government entities; and total net exports. It's important, because it serves as the primary gauge of whether the economy is growing or not. Most economists define a recession as two or more consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP.
The CPI measures current price levels for the goods and services that Americans buy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects price data on a basket of different items, ranging from necessities like food, clothing and housing to more discretionary expenses like eating out and entertainment. The resulting figure is then compared to those of previous months to determine the inflation rate, which is used in a variety of ways, including cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other government benefits.
The unemployment rate measures the percentage of workers within the total labor force who don't have a job, but who have looked for work in the past four weeks, and who are available to work. Those temporarily laid off from their jobs are also included as unemployed. Yet as critical as the figure is as a measure of how many people are out of work and therefore suffering financial hardship from a lack of a paycheck, one key item to note about the unemployment rate is that the number does not reflect workers who have stopped looking for work entirely. It's therefore important to look beyond the headline numbers to see whether the overall workforce is growing or shrinking.
The trade deficit measures the difference between the value of a nation's imported and exported goods. When exports exceed imports, a country runs a trade surplus. But in the U.S., imports have exceeded exports consistently for decades. The figure is important as a measure of U.S. competitiveness in the global market, as well as the nation's dependence on foreign countries.
Each month, the Bureau of Economic Analysis measures changes in the total amount of income that the U.S. population earns, as well as the total amount they spend on goods and services. But there's a reason we've combined them on one slide: In addition to being useful statistics separately for gauging Americans' earning power and spending activity, looking at those numbers in combination gives you a sense of how much people are saving for their future.
Consumers play a vital role in powering the overall economy, and so measures of how confident they are about the economy's prospects are important in predicting its future health. The Conference Board does a survey asking consumers to give their assessment of both current and future economic conditions, with questions about business and employment conditions as well as expected future family income.
The health of the housing market is closely tied to the overall direction of the broader economy. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, named for economists Karl Case and Robert Shiller, provides a way to measure home prices, allowing comparisons not just across time but also among different markets in cities and regions of the nation. The number is important not just to home builders and home buyers, but to the millions of people with jobs related to housing and construction.
Most economic data provides a backward-looking view of what has already happened to the economy. But the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index attempts to gauge the future. To do so, the index looks at data on employment, manufacturing, home construction, consumer sentiment, and the stock and bond markets to put together a complete picture of expected economic conditions ahead.
Read Full Story

Find a New Home

Powered by Zillow

People are Reading