The nation's foreclosure inventory and number of completed foreclosures continued their steady downward spiral in January, according to CoreLogic's January 2015 National Foreclosure Report released on Tuesday.
Foreclosure inventory, which is the number of residential homes that are in any stage of foreclosure, took a plunge of 33.2 percent year-over-year in January, down to 549,000 compared to 822,000 in January 2014. Foreclosure completions totaled about 43,000 in January – a decline of 22.5 percent from the same month a year earlier, when 55,000 foreclosures were completed.
By comparison, completed foreclosures, which are a true sign of homes lost to foreclosure, averaged about 21,000 per month nationwide from 2000 to 2006 in the years prior to the financial crisis. While January's total was still more than double that average, much progress has been made in the last three years – completed foreclosures have declined each month for the past 37 months.
Completed foreclosures have totaled approximately 5.5 million nationwide since the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 and have totaled approximately 7 million since homeownership peaked in the second quarter of 2004. January's foreclosure rate of 1.4 percent, meaning 1.4 percent of all residential homes with a mortgage nationwide are in some state of foreclosure, was the lowest level reported since March 2008. Year-over-year, the foreclosure rate was down 0.6 percentage points, from 2.0 percent reported in January 2014.
The number of mortgages that were seriously delinquent in January, those defined as 90 or more days past due or in foreclosure or bank-owned) was reported to be 1.53 million (4 percent of all mortgages), a year-over-year decline of 23.8 percent and its lowest level since June 2008.
"Job growth and home-value appreciation have worked to push the serious delinquency rate to the lowest since mid-2008 and foreclosures down by one-third from a year ago," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. "With economic growth in 2015 expected to be better than last year, further declines in both delinquencies and foreclosures are projected for this year."
Twenty-four states experienced year-over-year declines of 30 percent or more in foreclosure inventory, led by Maine (49.5 percent) and Florida (49 percent). Thirty-six states reported a foreclosure inventory below January's national average of 1.4 percent.
Florida was still the leading state in 12-month sum of foreclosures for the period starting February 1, 2014 and ending January 31, 2015, with 111,000. Florida was followed by Michigan (51,000), Texas (34,000), California (30,000), and Georgia (28,000).