U.S. foreclosure activity fell 1% in April as banks scheduled fewer auctions even as they reclaimed more homes, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac, which tracks and compiles housing market data.
The latest drop brought foreclosure activity 20% below its year-ago level. It was the 43rd consecutive month foreclosure activity was down on an annual basis. Foreclosure activity includes foreclosure notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions,
According to RealtyTrac, 115,830 homes were at some stage of the foreclosure process last month. Foreclosure activity was running at an estimated 85,000 properties a month on the cusp of the economic downturn in 2006. Foreclosures peaked at 2.9 million properties with filings in 2010.
Bank repossessions, though still down 14% from a year ago, were up 4% in April, partly due to state and government interventions that slowed down the foreclosure process. Overall, 30,056 homes were repossessed.
Bank repossessions increased from the previous month in 26 states and were up from a year ago in 16 states, including New York (142% increase), Oregon (91% increase), New Jersey (58% increase), Illinois (55% increase), Indiana (52% increase), Maryland (45% increase), Connecticut (44% increase), California (27% increase) and Nevada (15% increase).
"The rise in bank repossessions in many states is a sign that those markets are working through the final remnants of foreclosures left over from the recent housing crisis," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "Many of these bank-owned homes are bottom-of-the-barrel properties in terms of location or condition, but they will provide some much-wanted inventory of homes for sale in some markets in the coming months. Investors and other buyers willing to do more extensive rehab will likely be best-suited for these incoming REOs."
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% from March and 21% from a year ago. It was the 41st straight month in which scheduled auctions were down on a yearly basis.