The number of U.S. properties with foreclosure filings fell 19% in January from a year earlier, though several states reported increased foreclosure activity for the first time in more than a year, according to market researcher RealtyTrac.
There were 219,941 properties with default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions on U.S. properties in January, a 3% increase from December. One in every 624 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing during the month, RealtyTrac said.
First-time default notices were filed on 58,362 U.S. properties last month, down 22% from a year-ago and unchanged from December. Default notices rose more than 20% from a year earlier in several states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida. Pennsylvania default notices reached a 15-month high in January, more than doubling from a year earlier.
“Although overall foreclosure activity was down from a year ago for the 16th straight month in January, we continue to see signs on a local and regional level that the frozen-up foreclosure process is beginning to thaw,” said Chief Executive Brandon Moore. “Foreclosure activity increased on a year-over-year basis for the first time in more than 12 months in Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania, following a pattern we saw in late 2011 in states such as California, Arizona and Massachusetts.”
Moore said foreclosure activity is expected to increase in the coming months, noting a settlement earlier this month between 49 state attorneys general and five of the nation’s largest lenders sets clear foreclosure guidelines and allows lenders to push through some of the delayed foreclosures from last year.