Foreclosure activity in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest level in 40 months, according to ""RealtyTrac"":http://www.realtytrac.com.
The company's foreclosure market report for April shows that filings - including default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions -- were reported on 219,258 properties last month.[IMAGE]
That figure represents a 9 percent decline compared to March and is down 34 percent from a year earlier.
It marks the seventh straight month that RealtyTrac has recorded a decline in foreclosures, but the company says it doesn't necessarily mean we've turned the corner.
""This slowdown continues to be largely the result of massive delays in processing foreclosures rather than the result of a housing recovery,"" said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac's CEO.
""The first delay occurs between delinquency and foreclosure, when lenders and services are no longer automatically pushing loans that are more than 90 days delinquent into foreclosure but are waiting longer to allow for loan modifications, short sales, and possibly other disposition alternatives,"" Saccacio explained.
He says data from the ""Mortgage Bankers Association"":http://www.mortgagebankers.org shows that about 3.7 million properties are in this limbo stage of between serious delinquency and foreclosure.
""The second delay,"" Saccacio continued, ""occurs after foreclosure has started, when lenders are taking much[COLUMN_BREAK]
longer than they were just a few years ago to complete the foreclosure process.""
As evidence of this extended timeline, RealtyTrac's study found that nationwide, completed foreclosures in the first quarter of 2011 took an average of 400 days from the initial default notice to REO. That's up from 340 days in the first quarter of 2010 and more than double the average 151 days it took to foreclose in the first quarter of 2007.
The foreclosure process is taking much longer in some states. The average timeframe from initial default notice to REO in New Jersey and New York was over 900 days in the first quarter of 2011, more than three times the average timeline in the first quarter of 2007 for both states.
The full foreclosure process in Florida took an average of 619 days in the first quarter, up from 470 days in the first quarter of 2010 and nearly four times the average of 169 days it took in the first quarter of 2007.
In California, the foreclosure timeline extended to 330 days in the first quarter. It was 262 days a year earlier and just 134 days in the first quarter of 2007.
Even with processing delays, the curb in activity last month wasn't entirely widespread. RealtyTrac says REOs hit a new record high in Nevada, while defaults spiked in Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Ten states accounted for 70 percent of U.S. foreclosure activity in April, led by California with 55,869 properties receiving a filing during the month.
A total of 19,649 Florida properties received a foreclosure filing in April, the second highest state total despite a 59 percent decrease from April 2010.
Arizona tallied the third highest state total with 13,419 properties receiving foreclosure filings in April, followed by Michigan with 12,996, and Nevada with 11,761.
Other states with foreclosure activity totals among the nation's 10 highest last month were Illinois (10,055), Texas (8,793), Georgia (8,479), Ohio (7,962), and Colorado (4,379).