WASHINGTON -- Foreclosure activity across the United States fell 1 percent last month, as banks scheduled fewer auctions even as they reclaimed more homes, a report from RealtyTrac said Thursday.
The latest drop brought foreclosure activity, which includes foreclosure notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, 20 percent below its year-ago level. It was the 43rd consecutive month foreclosure activity was down on an annual basis.
According to RealtyTrac, which tracks and compiles housing market data, 115,830 homes were at some stage of the foreclosure process last month. On the eve of the economic downturn in 2006, foreclosure activity was running at about 85,000 properties a month. U.S. foreclosures peaked at 2.9 million properties with filings in 2010.
"What this means is that we are getting closer to pre-recession levels of foreclosure activity," RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist told Reuters.
Bank repossessions, though still down 14 percent from a year ago, were up 4 percent in April, partly due to state and government interventions that slowed down the foreclosure process. Overall, 30,056 homes were repossessed.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%"The rise in bank repossession in many states is a sign that those markets are working through the final remnants of foreclosures left over from the recent housing crisis," Blomquist said.
Florida, with one in every 400 homes facing foreclosure, continued to have the highest rate in the nation, followed by Maryland, Delaware and Indiana.
A total of 49,239 homes were scheduled for a foreclosure auction last month, down 3 percent from March and 21 percent from a year ago. It was the 41st straight month in which scheduled auctions were down on a year-on-year basis.
Many of the bank-owned homes are of low quality and in bottom markets, but will provide much-needed inventory for sale in the coming months, Blomquist said
The housing market has taken a hit from a run-up in interest rates over the past year and an unusually cold winter, but a report last month on contract signings for March suggested the industry is getting back on its feet.
"We know the ending to the story; we know that we expect, by this time next year, foreclosure activity to be back to pre-recession levels," Blomquist said. "There are going to be some bumps on that path to normal, but we don't see any headwinds that would cause foreclosures to rise."
House Rich: Neighborhoods With the Biggest Price Jumps
U.S. Sees Fewer Foreclosures as Banks Reclaim More Homes
Year-over-year gain: 21.5%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $224,450
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $272,750
Residents enjoy hundreds of nearby hiking trails, as well as indoor culture at the Fine Arts Center and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
Year-over-year gain: 22%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $318,375
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $388,500
This neighborhood, bounded by the Schuylkill River and 20th Street, and by South Street and Christian Street, was viewed as a slum in the 1970s, when Philadelphia's Redevelopment Authority took over abandoned properties.
Year-over-year gain: 24.2%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $516,450
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $641,500
Magnolia covers 4 square miles, making it the second-largest Seattle neighborhood by area. It features a lighthouse built in 1881 and is home to Seattle's largest park, at 534 acres.
Year-over-year gain: 32.1%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $210,446
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $277,898
Paradise Valley, in the heart of the Scottsdale-Phoenix area, gets an average 294 days of sunshine a year -- hence, the more than 200 golf courses.
Year-over-year gain: 32.2%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $344,750
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $455,835
The Washington Post listed Sunset Hills among "the shortest commute" category of Virginia neighborhoods, with an average commute time of just over 21 minutes. And Dulles International Airport is about six miles away.
Year-over-year gain: 44.5%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $247,735
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $357,900
This once-seedy area has become hot in recent years. It's packed with art galleries and chic retail shops, as well as new upscale bars and restaurants next to venerable family-owned cafeterias.
Year-over-year gain: 46.9%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $284,750
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $418,250
Brighton, once the center of New England's cattle trade, is in the northwest corner of Boston, on the Charles River. The Brighton Branch Library is Boston's first renovated LEED Green Building. The Brighton Police station is shown here.
Year-over-year gain: 47.5%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $223,175
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $329,100
South Loop joins a number of other once-blighted neighborhoods on this list that have been redeveloped and are now hot. The site of former rail yards, it was known for many years more for its vices (as in brothels, burlesques) than its residential virtues.
Year-over-year gain: 48.7%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $241,000
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $358,450
Also: Fairgrounds, San Jose (41.4%); La Jolla, San Diego (40%); Woodland Hills, Los Angeles (37.5%); Southwest Anaheim, Anaheim (35.2%); Berryessa, San Jose (34.4%).
Newhall, the southernmost and oldest district of Santa Clarita, was the first permanent Anglo settlement in the valley. Ranches-turned-film studios dot the area, including the Melody Ranch, which was once owned by Gene Autry. The ranch hosts the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival.
Year-over-year gain: 48.8%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $504,250
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $750,275
This is the most affluent neighborhood in Charlotte; the median income is $79,737, according to Zillow. That compares with a median of $46,975 for Charlotte. A high point of the area is the Duke Mansion, built in 1915 by tobacco magnate James Buchanan Duke.
Year-over-year gain: 57.4%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $167,450
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $263,615
People who live here, according to classifications Zillow uses to characterize residents, are likely to be: Corporate Climbers, Multi-lingual Urbanites or in a category called "Bright Lights, Big City," which Zillow uses to describe "singles ranging in age from the early 20s to mid-40s who have moved to an urban setting."
Year-over-year gain: 97.3%
Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $668,250
Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $1,318,301
New York City’s 92-acre planned community includes areas built on more than 3 million cubic yards of soil and rock, some of which was excavated during the construction of the World Trade Center.
Bloomberg ranked neighborhoods in U.S. cities based on the year-over-year increase in median home sale prices from January 2013 to January 2014. Percentage increases were based on Zillow calculations of median sale prices of all home types and calculated only for neighborhoods with at least 10 sales per month. Only neighborhoods with median home sale prices of at least $250,000 in January 2014 were included. Data were rounded.