Foreclosure filings dropped precipitously in January, falling 7% from December and down 28% year-over-year to a total of 150,864, including default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions, according to data released today by RealtyTrac. The decline was due in large measure to a steep fall in foreclosure starts in California, driven by legislation that went into effect on the first of the year. 

This legislation, known as the Homeowners Bill of Rights, includes a ban on dual tracking, mandates a single point of contact for owners whose homes are in the foreclosure process, and imposes fines of up to $7,500 per loan for servicers who file multiple unverified foreclosure documents. 

“As a result, the downward foreclosure trend in California accelerated into hyper speed in January, decisively shifting the balance of power when it comes to the nation’s foreclosure activity,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a statement discussing the numbers release. 

For the first time in six years, California did not earn the dubious honor of having the greatest number of properties with foreclosure filings among the states. Instead, that title went to Florida.

Nationwide, foreclosure starts were down 11% from January and dropped 28% on an annual basis to a 79-month low. Bank repossessions were down 5% and 24% on a monthly and yearly basis, respectively.


Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.