Within the last seven to ten business days there have been several different foreclosure reports about the state of US foreclosures; reports that are contradictory in many aspects. Such reports are leaving consumers confused as to the state of the housing market and where the housing and mortgage industries as a whole are at the current time. That’s likely to continue into the future until the entire housing market settles down.
One of the more positive reports to recently come out was one from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) which showed a significant reduction in the number of mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures in the fourth quarter of 2011. Their numbers show not only a reduction between the third and fourth quarters of last year, but an overall reduction from the 2010 and 2009 calendar years. At the heart of the MBA report are the documents created by mortgage owners and servicers at the start of foreclosure proceedings.
On the other hand, several stories have also surfaced noting a rise in foreclosure actions for the first month of 2012. RealtyTrac data, a foreclosure property specialist, has been the primary source of many of these stories. They noted a 3% increase in foreclosure actions in January as compared to December, despite the fact that they agreed with the MBA’s assessment of an overall decrease for the 2011 calendar year. One possible explanation offered by RealtyTrac data is the recent settlement reached between forty-nine states and five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders.
As the thinking goes, the slowdown in foreclosures last year may have been largely due to the ongoing action from the state Attorneys General. Once the settlement was reached it ostensibly freed up mortgage lenders to once again pursue foreclosure actions. If the theory holds true it’s possible US homeowners could see a spike in foreclosures this spring before the market levels off again over the summer months.
According to national numbers the states with the highest foreclosure rates continue to be Nevada, California, Arizona, and Florida. Among the top four, Nevada has been the clear leader in total foreclosure proceedings for the better part of five years.
In all likelihood the slowly improving economy suggests a return to a pre-recession housing market is likely, albeit quite a ways away. Some experts don’t foresee real estate levels reaching pre-bust peaks anytime soon; rather, they are expected to reach levels that would have been more reasonable and realistic in the period before the artificial inflation of the housing boom.