RealtyTrac Sees First Annual Drop in Foreclosures Since 2005

Foreclosure filings across the country dropped from the year before for the first time since RealtyTrac began measuring the statistics in January 2005. The company measures default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions across the US. Filings were reported on 333,837 properties in April, a 2% drop from the same month in 2009 and a 9% drop from March. James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac, said it could be a sign that foreclosure activity is starting to flatten. “There were two important milestones in the April numbers that show foreclosure activity has begun to plateau — but at a very high level that will not drop off in the near future,” said Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. The first milestone was the drop in foreclosures. The second was that REO, or properties taken back by the bank, hit a record monthly high of 92,432 in April, up 1% from February and 45% from April 2009. It was a 1% increase from the peak in December 2009. However, default notices dropped “substantially” on a monthly basis, according to the report. RealtyTrac reported 103,762 default notices in April, a 12% drop from February and a 27% drop from April 2009, when default activity peaked at more than 142,000. “We expect a similar pattern to continue for most of this year, with the overall numbers staying at a high level and ripples of activity hitting the various stages of the foreclosure process as lenders systematically work through the backlog of distressed properties,” Saccacio said. Nevada held the highest foreclosure rate for the 40th straight month. There, one in every 69 housing units received a foreclosure filing in April, more than five times the national average. Arizona moved from third to second despite a 15% decrease in foreclosure activity. There, one in every 169 homes received a filing. Florida held the third spot, where one in every 182 homes received a filing. California fell from second to fourth. There, one in every 192 homes received a foreclosure filing. Write to Jon Prior.

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