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Investors desperate for foreclosures to buy got a break in May as banks cracked down on overdue defaulters, increasing starts and repossessing homes occupied by defaulters.

Bank Crack Down Bolsters Foreclosure Inventory

Investors desperate for foreclosures to buy got a break in May as banks cracked down on overdue defaulters, increasing starts and repossessing homes occupied by defaulters.

The monthly increase in overall foreclosure activity was caused largely by an 11 percent month-over-month increase in bank repossessions (REOs), although REO activity was still down 29 percent from a year ago.

REO activity increased from the previous month in 33 states — including North Carolina (up 60 percent), Oregon (up 57 percent), Wisconsin (up 44 percent), Illinois (up 44 percent), Colorado (up 23 percent), and Michigan (up 19 percent). REO activity increased 9 percent from the previous month in non-judicial states and was up 13 percent from the previous month in judicial states.

Among the five lenders involved in last year’s national mortgage settlement, all but one (Citi) posted monthly increases in REO activity, indicating that temporary stoppages of foreclosure sales announced during the month by some of the lenders involved in the settlement had little lasting impact on the number of completed foreclosures for the month.

U.S. foreclosure starts increased 4 percent from the previous month but were still down 33 percent from a year ago. Foreclosure starts increased from the previous month in 26 states and were up from a year ago in 14 states, including Maryland (up 229 percent), Connecticut (up 122 percent), Hawaii (up 108 percent), Arkansas (up 84 percent), New Jersey (up 82 percent), Nevada (up 81 percent), Washington (up 53 percent), Pennsylvania (up 26 percent) and New York (up 13 percent).

The foreclosure problem continued to shift away from non-judicial states and toward judicial states. Judicial states accounted for five of the top six foreclosure rates nationwide: Florida, Ohio, Maryland, South Carolina and Illinois. At No. 2, Nevada’s foreclosure rate was the highest ranked among non-judicial states.

Among the nation’s 20 largest metros, those with the biggest increases in median home prices tended to be in states where a non-judicial foreclosure process has allowed foreclosures to be absorbed by the market more quickly. Seven of the 10 metros with the biggest jumps in median home prices from a year ago were in non-judicial states, while all five metros with flat or declining median prices were in states with a judicial foreclosure process.

“Foreclosure activity continued to bounce back in some markets where it may have appeared the foreclosure problem had been knocked out by an aggressive combination of foreclosure prevention efforts over the past two years,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Places like Nevada, where foreclosure starts increased to a 20-month high, and Maryland, where overall foreclosure activity increased to a 33-month high. Still, the emerging housing recovery has strengthened most local markets enough to quickly shake off a few more blows from these nagging foreclosures.”

RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for May 2013 shows foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 148,054 U.S. properties in May, an increase of 2 percent from the 75-month low in April but still down 28 percent from May 2012. The report also shows one in every 885 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.

A 20 percent monthly increase in foreclosure activity pushed Florida’s foreclosure rate to highest among the states in May, up from the No. 2 ranking in April. One in every 302 Florida housing units had a foreclosure filing during the month, nearly three times the national average. Florida foreclosure starts jumped 39 percent from a two-year low in April, but were still down 17 percent from a year ago. Scheduled foreclosure auctions in Florida increased 6 percent from the previous month and were up 79 percent from a year ago, while Florida bank repossessions increased 14 percent from the previous month and were up 20 percent from a year ago.

Nevada foreclosure activity increased annually in May after 27 consecutive months of annual decreases, but the state’s foreclosure rate still slipped to second highest among the states after ranking No. 1 in April. One in every 305 Nevada housing units had a foreclosure filing during the month. The increase in overall foreclosure activity in Nevada was driven primarily by an 81 percent year-over-year increase in foreclosure starts, which reached a 20-month high in May. Meanwhile scheduled foreclosure auctions in Nevada increased 21 percent from the previous month but were still down 14 percent from a year ago, and bank repossessions increased 4 percent from the previous month but were still down 64 percent from a year ago.

Ohio posted the nation’s third highest state foreclosure rate for the second month in a row in May, with one in every 584 housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month. A total of 8,770 Ohio properties had a foreclosure filing during the month, down 27 percent from a 31-month high in April and down 15 percent from May 2012. Ohio foreclosure starts and scheduled foreclosure auctions both decreased in May, but bank repossessions were still up 7 percent from a year ago — the ninth consecutive month with an annual increase in bank repossessions.

Maryland foreclosure activity increased 11 percent from the previous month and was up 134 percent from a year ago, and the state posted the nation’s fourth highest foreclosure rate in May: one in every 587 housing units with a foreclosure filing.

South Carolina foreclosure activity decreased 2 percent from the previous month and was down 11 percent from a year ago, but the state still posted the nation’s fifth highest state foreclosure rate in May: one in every 600 housing units with a foreclosure filing.

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the 10 highest nationwide were Illinois (one in every 606 housing units with a foreclosure filing), Georgia (one in 693 housing units), Washington (one in 736 housing units), Arizona (one in 742 housing units), and Wisconsin (one in 774 housing units).

With one in every 209 housing units with a foreclosure filing, Miami posted the nation’s highest foreclosure rate in May among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more. Foreclosure activity in the Miami metro area increased 29 percent from the previous month and was up 59 percent from a year ago.

Five other Florida metro areas posted foreclosure rates that ranked among the top 10 in May: Jacksonville at No. 2 (one in every 225 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Tampa at No. 3 (one in every 290 housing units); Orlando at No. 7 (one in every 336 housing units); Ocala at No. 9 (one in every 352 housing units); and Sarasota at No. 10 (one in every 360 housing units).

Other metro areas with foreclosure rates ranking in the top 10 were Las Vegas at No. 4 (one in every 296 housing units); Reno, Nev., at No. 5 (one in every 301 housing units); Reading, Pa., at No. 6 (one in every 306 housing units); and Rockford, Ill., at No. 8 (one in every 347 housing units).

Among 20 of the nation’s largest metros, those with the biggest increases in median home prices tended to be in states where a non-judicial foreclosure process has allowed foreclosures to be absorbed by the market more quickly. Seven of the 10 metros with the biggest jumps in median home prices from a year ago were in non-judicial states, and foreclosure activity in all seven of these metros was down by 25 percent (Denver) to 64 percent (Phoenix) from a year ago.

Meanwhile all five metros with flat or declining median prices were in states with a judicial foreclosure process, and in all but one of these metros (Boston) foreclosure activity increased in May from a year ago.

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