Real Estate Foreclosures in Decline, But Impact is Highly Local

by Rebecca Chandler

Main Street signPhoto: kjelljoran

Foreclosures data, from a national perspective, are indicating some encouraging trends in housing news, but those numbers vary widely from market to market. What’s really important is what is happening locally.

Nationally, there were 19% fewer completed U.S. foreclosures in February 2013 compared to February 2012 — down to 54,000 vs. 67,000 according to CoreLogic®’s recently released National Foreclosure Report for February. This was the 16th consecutive month with a year-over-year decline.

The report defines completed foreclosures as the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Comparing month over month, completed foreclosures also fell from 58,000* in January 2013 to the February level of 54,000, a decrease of 7 percent.

And while that’s good news and a step in the right direction, between the beginning of the financial crisis in September 2008, there have been approximately 4.2 million completed foreclosures across the country to date.

And, prior to the housing market decline in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 monthly nationwide between 2000 and 2006, so we still have a way to go.

However, this information is highly local and does not apply to all markets:

The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in February 2013 account for almost half nationally

  • Florida (95,000)
  • California (90,000)
  • Michigan (73,000)
  • Texas (57,000)
  • Georgia (49,000)

The lowest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in February 2013 show quite a different story.

  • District of Columbia (96)
  • Hawaii (469)
  • North Dakota (482)
  • Maine (542)
  • West Virginia (588)

But, population obviously impacts these totals. After all, there are fewer home owners in Maine than in California.

As a percentage of all mortgaged homes, the five states with the highest foreclosure were:

  • Florida (9.9 %)
  • New Jersey (7.2 %)
  • New York (5.0%)
  • Nevada (4.6%)
  • Illinois (4.5%)

In contrast, the five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were:

  • Wyoming (0.5%)
  • Alaska (0.6%)
  • North Dakota (0.7%)
  • Nebraska (0.8%)
  • Montana (0.9%)

Bottom line? Looking at national foreclosure statistics is like viewing a national weather forecast. Just because it’s raining in Miami doesn’t mean you should carry an umbrella in Montana.


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