The number of U.S. properties in foreclosure rose 5 percent in January, driven primarily by a 55 percent monthly surge in bank repossessions (REOs) to a 15-month high, according to the real estate tracking site RealtyTrac.
Overall foreclosure filings —- default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -— were reported on 119,888 U.S. properties in January, an increase of 5 percent from the previous month — but down 4 percent from a year ago.
A total of 37,292 U.S. properties were repossessed by lenders in January, up 23 percent from a year ago to the highest monthly total since October 2013.
“The year-over-year increase in REOs in January was the first annual increase nationwide following 25 consecutive months of declines, getting the foreclosure spring cleaning we anticipated in our last foreclosure report off to an early start in 2015,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.
Meanwhile, the number of future foreclosure auctions scheduled in January increased in many states, signaling additional foreclosure “spring cleaning” to come in the next several months, he added.
Twenty-one states posted a year-over-year increase in scheduled foreclosure auctions in January, including Massachusetts (up 268 percent), New Jersey (up 125 percent), North Carolina (up 111 percent), New York (up 79 percent to a 55-month high), Missouri (up 74 percent to a 29-month high), California (up 43 percent to a 22-month high), Arizona (up 37 percent to a 20-month high), Oregon (up 29 percent), and Washington (up 13 percent).
“It’s important to note that in most of these states, foreclosure auctions and REOs are coming off somewhat artificially low levels last year and are still far below the highs reached during the worst of the foreclosure crisis back 2009 and 2010,” Blomquist noted.
A total of 51,782 U.S. properties in January were scheduled for a future foreclosure auction, up 8 percent from the previous month but still down 7 percent from a year ago and down 67 percent from the peak of 158,105 in March 2010. U.S. REOs in January were down 63 percent from a peak of 102,134 in September 2010.