Foreclosure activity was unexpectedly mixed in December. Between recent documentation issues and the December holidays, an across the board slow down in foreclosure activity seemed likely. Foreclosure starts were down in Arizona, California, and Washington; flat in Nevada; and higher in Oregon. Foreclosure sales were down in Arizona and Oregon; flat in California and up in Nevada and Washington.
While we expect foreclosure activity to bounce around as mortgage servicers deal with the fallout from recent documentation issues, we found this month's mix of activity particularly strange as most large servicers and foreclosure trustees operate across all of the states we cover. One possible explanation for this mix of activity is that servicers and trustees are dealing with issues specific to each stage of the foreclosure process on a state-by-state basis. This would align with the recent Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that made it clear that lenders must follow the letter of the law in each state rather than simply continue industry practices. This could certainly slow one type of activity while accelerating another.
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