Completed foreclosures experienced another substantial year-over-year decline in March, moving even further away from their peak from nearly five years ago, according to CoreLogic's March 2015 National Foreclosure Report released on Tuesday.
Foreclosure inventory also fell substantially year-over-year in March, declining by 25.7 percent down to about 542,000 mortgages (about 1.4 percent of all mortgages nationwide) – marking the 41st consecutive month of year-over-year declines, according to CoreLogic. In March 2014, there were about 729,000 residential homes, or 1.9 percent of mortgages nationwide, that were in some stage of foreclosure.
The number of completed foreclosures, which are an indicator of homes actually lost to foreclosure, totaled 41,000 for March 2015 – a decline of 15.5 percent from the previous March (48,000) and of about 65 percent from their peak experienced in September 2010.
The number of mortgages in serious delinquency (those 90 days or more overdue or in foreclosure or REO) fell year-over-year by 19 percent in March, down to about 1.5 million mortgages, representing 3.9 percent of all mortgages nationwide. March's serious delinquency rate of 3.9 percent is the lowest since May 2008.
"We are seeing additional improvement in housing market conditions due to a decline in the serious delinquency rate to 3.9 percent, far below the peak of 8.6 percent in early 2010," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. "Despite the decline in the number of loans that are 90 days or more delinquent or in foreclosure, the percent of homeowners struggling to keep up is still well above the pre-recession average of 1.5 percent."
The state with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12-month period from April 2014 to March 2015 was Florida with 110,000, followed by Michigan (50,000), Texas (34,000), and Georgia and Ohio with 28,000 each. South Dakota had the lowest number of completed foreclosures for that same period with 16, followed by the District of Columbia (87), North Dakota (326), West Virginia (462) and Wyoming (517).
The state with the highest percentage of foreclosure inventory for March was New Jersey (5.3 percent), followed by New York (3.9 percent), Florida (3.3 percent), Hawaii (2.7 percent), and the District of Columbia (2.5 percent). States with the lowest foreclosure inventory in March were Alaska (0.3 percent), Nebraska (0.4 percent), and North Dakota, Montana, and Colorado at 0.5 percent each.
"Foreclosures and serious delinquency rates continue to drop as the home purchase market begins to emerge from its eight-year slump," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "Based on the current trends in completed foreclosure rates, we expect the foreclosure inventory to drop below 1.3 percent by midyear, a level not seen since the end of 2007. Many states in the Northeast and Midwest, as well as Florida, still have elevated levels of distressed housing, but they are making more rapid progress as of late. In March, foreclosures in these areas accounted for a large proportion of completed foreclosures."
Since September 2008, when the financial crisis began, there have been about 5.6 million homes lost to foreclosure. About 7.7 million homes have been lost to foreclosure since the homeownership rate peaked in the second quarter of 2004. Though completed foreclosures declined significantly in March 2015, the total of 41,000 is still nearly double the pre-crisis average of 21,000 per month from 2000 to 2006.