IRVINE, CA-Foreclosure filings were reported on 206,900 US properties in February, down 2% from January and 8% from February 2011. However, that decrease was less than decreases during each of the past 14 months, and 21 states posted annual increases in foreclosures, the most since November 2011, according to the RealtyTrac US Foreclosure Market Report released this morning.


Brandon Moore, CEO of locally based RealtyTrac, said in a statement that February’s numbers point to a gradually rising tide, as some of the barriers that have been holding back foreclosures have been removed. “The foreclosure and mortgage settlement filed in court earlier this week will help pave the way to a properly functioning foreclosure process by providing a clear roadmap for necessary foreclosures,” Moore said. “That should result in more states posting annual increases in the coming months. Not surprisingly, many of the biggest annual increases in February were in states with the more bureaucratic judicial foreclosure process, which resulted in a larger backlog of foreclosures built up over the last 18 months in those states.”

He said February foreclosure activity in the 26 states with a judicial foreclosure process increased 2% from January and was up 24% from February 2011, while activity in the 24 states with a non-judicial foreclosure process decreased 5% from January and was down 23% from February 2011.

Half of the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas (by population) documented year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in February, led by Tampa (64%) and Miami (53%). The 10 areas with increases were all on the East Coast or in the Midwest, while areas with decreases were in the West, led by Seattle (59%) and Phoenix (43%).

Also, default notices were filed for the first time on a total 58,886 US properties in February, up 1% from January but down 7% from a year ago. Increases were seen in Hawaii (321%), Maryland (157%) and Connecticut (64%), while decreases were seen in Nevada (89%), Michigan (72%) and New York (44%). New laws requiring more paperwork for defaults were initiated in Nevada and Michigan, while state attorneys general in New York, California and Nevada have filed lawsuits against major lenders in recent months.

The housing market seems to be also somewhat recovering, according to a recent RE/MAX National Housing Report. Home prices in 53 cities surveyed by the report rose by 1.1% over the same prices compiled in February 2011, according to the report, and home sales were up 8.7% from a year ago. “It’s looking like 2012 will witness a very strong home-selling season,” according to the report. 

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