A rise in foreclosure starts and auctions caused an increase in U.S. foreclosure activity in March, up 4 percent from the previous month according to the U.S. Foreclosure Market Report released by RealtyTrac. The company reported approximately 117,000 foreclosure filings for the month of March, down 23 percent from the previous year. Foreclosure starts increased by 7 percent, and foreclosure auctions increased by 6 percent, both on a month-over-month basis. Quarterly, foreclosure activity remains down to the lowest it has been since the second quarter of 2007.
The report found that the average time to complete a foreclosure rose to 572 days nationwide, a 1 percent increase from the previous quarter's average of 564 days. However, the average time to complete a foreclosure is still up 20 percent from the first quarter of 2013, when the average completion time was 477 days. Approximately 341,000 U.S. properties had a foreclosure notice in the first quarter of 2014, down 3 percent from the previous quarter and down 23 percent from the first quarter of 2013.
A recent report from Fannie Mae found that the share of second mortgages has been on the rise since 2009. Since 1998, second-home mortgages have averaged about 4.76 percent of the total purchase market, but the share is rising, according to the company. While the purchase market increased four-fold from 1998 through the bubble years, the second-home mortgage market multiplied by 15 over the same time period. While some buyers were put off by price volatility, some second-home buyers took advantage of bargain prices. Second-home buyers were more likely to pay in cash or offer larger down payments.