NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Completed U.S. foreclosuresplunged by 39 percent in September compared to a year ago, thebiggest annual decline since the housing downturn began in 2007,data from CoreLogic showed on Thursday.
There were 51,000 completed foreclosures last month, downfrom 84,000 in September, 2012. Foreclosures are completed whena home is either seized by the lender or sold at auction.
There were also 51,000 foreclosures in August.
Between 2000 and 2006 and before the housing market'sdownturn in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 permonth. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, therehave been about 4.6 million foreclosures.
"The number of seriously delinquent mortgages continues todrop across the country at a rapid rate with every state showingyear-over-year declines in foreclosure inventory," said AnandNallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.
"We're not out of the woods yet, but these are encouragingsigns for a return to a healthier housing market."
Housing began to improve in early 2012, with prices andsales volume increasing and the foreclosure landscape improving.
A spike in borrowing costs over the summer sapped some ofthat momentum, which might slow foreclosure resales. Rates haveretreated from recent highs, however, over the last month.
There were approximately 902,000 homes in some stage offoreclosure in September, down from 1.4 million a year ago. Thatinventory represented 2.3 percent of all homes with a mortgage,compared to 3.2 percent in September of last year.
The five states with the highest number of foreclosures inthe year leading up to September were Florida, California, Texas, Michigan and Georgia, which together accounted for almosthalf of all foreclosures nationally.
Florida also had the highest percentage of homes sitting inforeclosure, followed by New Jersey, New York, Maine andConnecticut.
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