Fewer dishes on foreclosure Smorgasbord

According to the RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, foreclosure filings were at 572,928 in the first quarter of this year, down 2% from the previous quarter and down 16% from a year earlier. It was the lowest quarterly total in foreclosure filings since the fourth quarter of 2007. The March total of 198,853 was the lowest tally since July 2007.

The numbers equate to more competition for investors and less time to act in Canadian-favoured locations such as Arizona.

Foreclosure filings include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions. But the declining trend in offerings had little to do with the underlying supply, said Brandon Moor, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

“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,” he said. “There are hairline cracks in the dam, evident in the sizeable 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.”

Thus the U.S. property market is likely to get worse still before getting better, once the banks start bringing on more foreclosure offerings.

Nevada, California and Arizona had the country’s highest foreclosure rates. But Nevada foreclosure activity decreased 26% from the previous quarter and was down 62% from the first quarter of 2011.

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