While the naive public has been inundated with stories that the foreclosure pipeline has been finally unclogged following the robo-settlement (see here and here) and as a result the home "price discovery" process is well on its way, reality is just a tad different. Make that totally different. As usual, the only foreclosure report that matters, and that is even remotely close to reality, comes from RealtyTrac, and we are sad to say, it brings no good news. Quite the contrary. According to the real estate specialists, March 2012 foreclosures plunged from 206,900 in February to 198,853 in March, the first time the total number of foreclosures (either Default Notices, Foreclosure Auctions, or REOs) has dropped under 200,000 since July 2007! Which sadly means that the foreclosure dam wall has yet to crack. Of course, when it does, well "The Second Foreclosure Tsunami Is Coming, And Is About To Kill Any Hopes Of A "Housing Bottom."
Foreclosure filings were reported on 198,853 U.S. properties in March, a 4 percent decrease from February and a 17 percent decrease from March 2011. March’s total was the lowest monthly total since July 2007, and also the first monthly total below 200,000 since July 2007.
“The low foreclosure numbers in the first quarter are not an indication that the massive reservoir of distressed properties built up over the past few years has somehow miraculously evaporated,” said Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “There are hairline cracks in the dam, evident in the sizable foreclosure activity increases in judicial foreclosure states over the past several months, along with an increase in foreclosure starts in many judicial and non-judicial states in March. The dam may not burst in the next 30 to 45 days, but it will eventually burst, and everyone downstream should be prepared for that to happen — both in terms of new foreclosure activity and new short sale activity.”
Judicial foreclosure activity increases in first quarter
The nationwide decrease in foreclosure activity was caused primarily by decreasing activity in states that use the non-judicial foreclosure process. These 24 states combined, along with the District of Columbia, had 329,854 properties with foreclosure filings during the quarter, more than half the national total — but a decrease of 8 percent from the previous quarter and a decrease of 28 percent from the first quarter of 2011.
Twenty non-judicial states registered year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity, led by Arkansas, with a 79 percent drop, and Nevada, with a 62 percent drop. Recent legislation or court cases have disrupted the normal foreclosure process in both these states. Other non-judicial states with substantial year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity included Washington (down 55 percent), Arizona (down 41 percent), Texas (down 31 percent), and California (down 21 percent).
Meanwhile foreclosure activity increased in states that primarily use the judicial foreclosure process. These 26 states combined accounted for 243,074 properties with foreclosure filings during the quarter, an increase of 8 percent from the previous quarter and an increase of 10 percent from the first quarter of 2011.
Judicial states posting some of the biggest year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in the first quarter included Indiana (up 45 percent), Connecticut (up 38 percent), Massachusetts (up 26 percent), Florida (up 26 percent), South Carolina (up 26 percent), and Pennsylvania (up 23 percent).