Signs point to reversal in foreclosure numbers

RealtyTrac: ‘It may be that we have reached that plateau’

June 14, 2012 12:01AM 
By Alexander Britell

Foreclosure filings in the tri-county area increased in May for the sixth straight month, but may be slowing down, data from the foreclosure research firm RealtyTrac shows. Properties with foreclosure filings in the tri-county area were 11 percent higher than they were in May 2011. The increase was especially pronounced in Miami-Dade County, which saw a 39 percent increase in foreclosure activity.

But those foreclosure numbers were significantly lower than in previous months — a sign that South Florida’s foreclosure problem could be peaking. In fact, foreclosures fell 36 percent year-over-year in Broward County.

“It’s possible that somewhere in this range of 7,000 to 10,000 properties a month is what we’re going to see,” RealtyTrac spokesperson Daren Blomquist told The Real Deal.

He noted: “If we continue to see somewhere around that 11 percent increase year-over-year, it may be that we have reached that plateau, and lenders are just pushing through as many [foreclosures] as they can.”

The month-to-month data leads to a similar conclusion. In May, foreclosure filings in South Florida decreased by 22 percent compared to April 2012.

The region was one of just three of the largest 20 metro areas in the United States to see a monthly decline, along with Boston and San Diego.

He cautioned that foreclosure activity at the county level could show more volatility than statewide and national numbers.

Nationally, foreclosure activity has continued to decline. In May, U.S. foreclosure filings fell 4 percent compared to the same period in 2011, the 20th straight month of reductions. That shift has been driven in part by an increase in pre-foreclosure sales, according to RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore.

The last six months represent a change from much of 2011, when much of Florida’s activity ground to a halt due to the foreclosure document scandal. After months of decreases, lenders began ramping up their processing toward the end of 2011.

“The lenders are pushing through the delayed foreclosures from a year ago, and continuing to do so,” Blomquist said. “I think the mortgage settlement between the attorneys general and fit major lenders that was finalized in April helped continue the upward trend.”

Now, it looks like that activity is reaching its limit.

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