The number of residential properties lost to foreclosure increased from February to March, while foreclosure inventory was down from month and year ago levels, according to data from ""CoreLogic"":http://www.corelogic.com/.[IMAGE]
In its most recent foreclosure report, the data provider reported 55,000 homes were lost to foreclosure in March, up 6 percent from 52,000 completed foreclosures in February. Still, completed foreclosures stood 16 percent lower compared to the year ago level when 66,000 homes were lost to the process.
""In March, completed foreclosures were down 52 percent from the peak in 2010, and almost all of the top 100 major metropolitan areas have declining foreclosure rates,"" said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.
While completed foreclosures have been on the decline, they still remain elevated. Between 2000 and 2006, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month, data from CoreLogic revealed. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, about 4.2 million homes have been lost to foreclosure.
CoreLogic also reported the number of homes in foreclosure inventory stood at 1.1 million, down 23 percent from March 2012 and down 1.9 percent from February.[COLUMN_BREAK]
""For 17 consecutive months, foreclosures have declined year over year across the U.S,"" said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. ""Although we still have more than a million homes in some stage of foreclosure, this trend, combined with rising home prices, is another signal of a gradually improving housing market.""
Foreclosure inventory, which includes all homes in some stage of foreclosure, represented about 2.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage.
""The foreclosure rate nationally is down 23 percent relative to a year ago, signaling continued reduction in the stock of distressed assets,"" Fleming noted.
Florida held its spot as the state with the highest number of completed foreclosures. Over a one-year period ending in March, the Sunshine state recorded 103,000 completed foreclosures. California followed with 83,000 completed foreclosures, with Michigan (70,000), Texas (53,000) and Georgia (48,000) rounding out the top five. The five states alone account for nearly half of all completed foreclosures nationally.
Florida also had the highest percentage of mortgaged homes in foreclosure inventory, at 9.7 percent. The states that took the next four spots were New Jersey (7.3 percent), New York (5.0 percent), Maine (4.4 percent), and Illinois (4.4 percent). All five states are categorized as judicial since lenders must show evidence of delinquency to the courts to proceed with a foreclosure.
Among the largest metro areas, Atlanta ranked highest for completed foreclosures after over 31,000 homes were lost to the process over a one-year period ending in March. Phoenix, Chicago, Riverside, and Tampa were also in the top five.
Florida cities Tampa and Orlando had the highest percentage of homes in foreclosure inventory at 10.2 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively. Edison-New Brunswick, New Jersey and Nassau-Suffolk, New York also had high foreclosure inventory rates of 6 and 6.5 percent.