Even as foreclosure activity slows across the nation, bank repossessions continue to grow, reaching a new record high in May that's 44% above the rate a year earlier, according to RealtyTrac.
But despite the huge year-over-year growth in repossessions, overall foreclosure activity actually fell 3% from the previous month as 322,920 households received a foreclosure filing, an increase of less than 1% from May 2009.
"The numbers in May continued and confirmed the trends we noticed in April: overall foreclosure activity leveling off while lenders work through the backlog of distressed properties that have built up over the past 20 months,” said James Saccacio, chief executive of RealtyTrac. "Lenders appear to be ramping up the pace of completing those forestalled foreclosures even while the inflow of delinquencies into the foreclosure process has slowed."
Indeed, RealtyTrac even points out that the number of homes taken back by banks in May increased year-over-year in all 50 states, even as the number of homes scheduled for foreclosure auction fell 4% from the previous month to 132,681, and the number of households that received a default notice fell 7% to 96,462 -- the lowest number since November 2008 and down 32% from the peak of 142,064 default notices in April 2009.
The states with the highest rates of foreclosure activity continued to be Nevada, Arizona and Florida, with Nevada in the lead despite a nearly 12% decrease in foreclosure activity from the previous month and a 16% decrease from the year earlier. In May, one in every 79 housing units in Nevada received a foreclosure filing, putting its rate at five times the national average.
In Arizona, the state with the second-highest rate of foreclosures, one in every 169 properties received a foreclosure filing, an increase of less than 1% from the previous month but a decrease of nearly 5 percent from May 2009.
Florida was hit with the third-highest rate of foreclosures, with one in every 174 properties receiving a foreclosure notice, an increase of nearly 5% from April and a decrease of 14% from May 2009.
The fourth-worst rate went to California, where one in every 186 properties received a foreclosure notice in May, up 3% from April and down 22% from the year earlier. Meanwhile, Michigan's 46% increase in foreclosure filings from May 2009, as well as its 6% increase from April, pushed it into the fifth spot.
But California, with 72,030 households receiving a foreclosures filing in May, still was the state with the most activity. Of the 10 states whose foreclosure activity made up 70% of the national total, California had 22%.
With the second-highest number of foreclosure filings, Florida's 50,685 made up nearly 16% of the national total in May, while Michigan made up 6% of the total with 20,322 properties. Arizona and Illinois each accounted for nearly 5%, with 16,097 properties in Arizona and 15,061 in Illinois.
Not to end on a negative note, but lastly, these states posted significant increases in year-over-year foreclosure activity: 65% in Maryland, 37% in Illinois and 31% in Georgia.
Is it really the beginning of the end of foreclosures? Egad, it's going to be a long, painful haul.