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Foreclosures increase for third straight month

Completed foreclosures edged up for the third consecutive month in August, but the overall trends in distressed properties continue to point to a much more stable housing market.

Foreclosures totaled 37,000 for the month, which was up nearly 8 percent over the July number (34,000), but down 42 percent compared to the August 2015 number, CoreLogic reported. Completed foreclosures also edged up for month in June (up 2.7 percent from May) and July (up 6.1 percent from June), but in both cases the numbers were well below the number for the same month a year earlier.

CoreLogic's Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said that foreclosures trends are edging back toward normal levels, but are still elevated. 

"We are not quite back yet," Nothaft told Scotsman Guide News. "The foreclosure rate [and] the serious delinquency rate are back to the levels they were in 2007. It is good that we have come down from the really elevated default rates that we have seen for much of the last nine years, but they are still elevated compared to the history."

He noted that foreclosures have ticked up in recent months in energy-dependent economies, such as North Dakota, Odessa and Midland, Texas, which have been hurt by declining oil prices and job losses.

"I do expect those general declines [in foreclosures], in most areas, to continue," Nothaft said.  

The foreclosure inventory, or number of properties in some stage of foreclosure, stood at 351,000, which was down by 3.1 percent from July and down nearly 29.6 percent compared to the July 2015 level.

Serious delinquencies also declined for the month and year in August.

The annual decline in the foreclosure inventory was the largest since January 2015,  Nothaft said. He said lower inventories of distressed properties are contributing to the rise in home prices, which is also boosting home equity levels.

Nearly half of all foreclosures over the past 12 months occurred in Florida, Texas, Ohio, California and Georgia, CoreLogic said. 


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