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Foreclosures Down 66 Percent From Peak, but Still Twice Normal

From MND NewsWire - Foreclosures during the 12 months ended on December 31 were the lowest recorded in the U.S. over that time period since November 2007 CoreLogic said today. The total of completed repossessions during the period was 563,294 and December was the 34th straight month to post a 12 month decline.

Foreclosures in December were down 7,000 units to 39,000, a 13.7 percent decline from December 2013. This was also a 66 percent decline from the peak of completed foreclosures in September 2010. Month-over-month completed foreclosures were down 4.9 percent from the 41,000 reported in November. Despite the many months of improvement in the foreclosure numbers, CoreLogic points out that completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide in the years 2000 to 2006 and since the financial crisis began in September 2008 some 5.5 million homes have been lost to foreclosure.

Five large states together accounted for almost half of foreclosures nationally for the 12 months ending in December 2014; Florida (118,000), Michigan (49,000), Texas (35,000), California (29,000) and Ohio (28,000).

"In 2014, the annual sum of completed foreclosures declined 15 percent from the 662,000 reported in 2013," said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic. "Completed foreclosures last year were less than half the 1.2 million peak in 2010, but remain twice the level of normal activity over 10 years ago."

The foreclosure inventory, that is homes in some stage of foreclosure, declined by slightly over one third between December 2013 and December 2014; from 840,000 units to 552,000. This represented 1.4 percent of all mortgaged homes in the U.S., back to a rate last seen in March 2008, compared to a rate of 2.1 percent the previous year. The inventory was 2.9 percent lower than in November 2014.

All states posted double-digit year-over-year declines in foreclosure inventory with the exception of West Virginia, which only fell slightly short with a 9.5 percent decrease. Thirty-three states showed declines in year-over-year foreclosure inventory of greater than 30 percent. Utah and Florida posted the largest declines, down 48.8 percent and 48.6 percent respectively.

The District of Columbia experienced a 21.7 percent increase and was among the areas with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of mortgaged homes at 2.4 percent. The District was behind New Jersey at 5.2 percent, New York (4.0 percent), Florida (3.7 percent) and Hawaii (2.7 percent.)

"The steady decline in the number of completed foreclosures is a good sign of healing in the U.S. housing market," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "Nonetheless, there remain many pockets of the country with very high foreclosure inventories, underscoring the unevenness of the nation's housing recovery."

The national serious delinquency rate, defined as 90 days or more past due, was 4.1 percent in December 2014, the lowest rate since June 2008. The level of serious delinquencies in December 2014 was 21.6 percent lower than in December 2013.

Some states are still posting high serious delinquency rates however, with most being those using a judicial foreclosure process. The three highest rates were in New Jersey (9.0 percent), Florida (7.9 percent) and New York (7.3 percent). The state in the non-judicial foreclosure column with the highest rate was Nevada at 5.4 percent followed by Alabama (4.5 percent) and Arkansas (4.4 percent).

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