Foreclosures leveling off

By Les Christie, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The national foreclosure rate fell 2% in February from a month earlier, according to an industry report released Thursday, the latest sign that the pace of foreclosures is slowing.

In January, the foreclosure rate had fallen 10% from December, according to RealtyTrac. And though foreclosures were up 6% in February from a year earlier, even that marks the smallest jump since RealtyTrac began calculating year-over-year increases in January 2006.

Still, RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio cautioned against calling an end to the foreclosure crisis, citing several factors that could be masking underlying weakness.

"This leveling of the foreclosure trend is not necessarily evidence that fewer homeowners are in distress and at risk for foreclosure, but rather that foreclosure prevention programs, legislation and other processing delays are in effect capping monthly foreclosure activity -- albeit at a historically high level," he said.

Lenders create the processing delays by not putting borrowers in default as soon as they fall behind on their payments. Instead, they evaluate their situations to decide whether they can benefit from the Obama administration's mortgage modification program.

That means many distressed mortgages are not counted in RealtyTrac's report; its numbers may be artificially depressed.

Also keeping a lid on foreclosures in February was foul weather, with heavy snow storms leading to court closings.

"If the county clerk's office is dark, it affects our numbers," said RealtyTrac's spokesman Rick Sharga.

It's possible that March will see a resurgence of foreclosure numbers. "We saw the same thing last January and February," said Sharga, "then, all hell broke loose in March."

Six states accounted for 60% of all foreclosure filings. California, with 68,562, led all states and had the fourth highest rate, with one of every 195 households receiving a filing.

The other top states for total filings included Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona and Texas.

Nevada recorded the highest foreclosure rate of any state with one household of every 102 getting hit.

The number of homes actually taken back in bank repossessions fell to 78,683 during February, from 87,648 a month earlier.

According to Sharga, once those homes go back on the market, they're selling quickly. "In most parts of the country when a bank-owned home goes back on the market, it's getting multiple bids," he said. To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.20%4.30%
15 yr fixed3.28%3.30%
5/1 ARM3.53%3.34%
30 yr refi4.18%4.27%
15 yr refi3.26%3.27%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,563.30 -317.06 -1.88%
Nasdaq 4,369.77 0.00 0.00%
S&P 500 1,930.67 -39.40 -2.00%
Treasuries 2.56 0.00 0.00%
Data as of 12:15am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.25 -0.33 -2.12%
Micron Technology In... 30.55 -1.98 -6.09%
Apple Inc 95.60 -2.55 -2.60%
Facebook Inc 72.65 -2.03 -2.71%
Pfizer Inc 28.70 -0.56 -1.91%
Data as of Jul 31

Sections

Malaysia Airlines was in major trouble even before the twin disasters of Flight 370 and Flight 17 claimed the lives of 537 people. More

With RadioShack burning through cash, investors and credit rating agencies believe its days are numbered. More

LinkedIn shares surged in after-hours trading Thursday following strong second-quarter earnings, following the likes of Facebook and Twitter. More

Terrell White has had a profit-sharing plan for his employees since 1981, believing that if the staff isn't happy, guests won't be either. More

The Mason family, which has been struggling to pay the $100,000 student loan bill they were left with when their daughter passed away five years ago, is now seeing an outpouring of support. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.