Foreclosure filings in the United States dropped 10% in February, compared with January, and 27% compared with February 2013, according to data releases Thursday by RealtyTrac. Florida, Maryland and Nevada posted the highest rates among the states in February, although rates in both Florida and Nevada fell compared with February 2013.
February foreclosures in Florida dropped 7%, compared with January, and 24% year-over-year, but the state still tops the list with foreclosure filings during the month on one of every 372 housing units in the state. That is more than three times the national average.
Nevada, with one foreclosure filing for every 633 housing units, was third in the rankings, replace by Maryland at number two with one filing for every 572 housing units. Nevada's year-over-year filing rate was down 49% and down 19% from January. Maryland's foreclosure filing rate has increased every month for 20 consecutive months. February's foreclosures rose 15%, compared with January.
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RealtyTrac noted that one in every five homes in the foreclosure process has been vacated by the distressed owner. These owner-vacated foreclosures, sometimes called zombie foreclosures, represent 21% of all U.S. homes in the foreclosure process, and they have been in that process for an average of 1,031 days.
February foreclosure starts rose in 14 states, including New Jersey, where starts rose by 126% year-over-year, boosting the state to a fourth place spot in the rankings, its highest position since October 2005.
Nine of the top 10 metropolitan area foreclosure rates occurred in Florida, with Atlantic City, N.J., being the lone outsider. Atlantic City's foreclosure rate in February rose 254%, putting it in seventh place in the rankings.
RealtyTrac included comments from several brokers. Here are two:
- Short sales and foreclosures used to account for about 85 percent of the Reno, NV market while home equity accounted for just 15 percent. Now those numbers have flipped and we are seeing an increase in home equity and a decrease in the number of total foreclosures. -- Reno/Lake Tahoe, Nevada
- The Denver market is certainly normalizing based on the large drop of distressed properties over the past year. The worst of the foreclosure crisis is thankfully behind us, however it’s not entirely over as we saw a surge in foreclosure activity early this year, and we predict there may be another month of higher foreclosure activity this summer. -- Denver, Colorado