December foreclosure activity dropped 10 percent from the previous month to the lowest level since April 2007, a 68-month low, according to data released today by RealtyTrac.
It’s a tale of two foreclosure markets, however, as we see drastically different trends in states with the longer judicial foreclosure process than those using the more streamlined non-judicial foreclosure process.
“2012 was the year of the judicial foreclosure, with foreclosure activity increasing from 2011 in 20 of the 26 states that primarily use the judicial process, and a judicial state—Florida—posting the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the first time since the housing crisis began,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Meanwhile foreclosure activity continued to decline in 19 of the 24 states that use the more streamlined non-judicial foreclosure process, but there could be a backlog of delayed foreclosures building up in some of those states as well as the result of recent state legislation and court rulings that raise the bar for lenders to foreclose.”
Lower foreclosure inventory during the year may have helped prices finally hit bottom. In 25 states and 16 of the nation’s 20 largest metros, median home prices during the first 10 months of 2012 rose compared with the same months in 2011. Rising prices bring welcome relief, boosting home values in 2012 and lifting 1.6 million homeowners out of negative equity.
See RealtyTrac's full report on December's foreclosure numbers.