RealtyTracâ€™s year-end report released Thursday shows foreclosure filings â€“ including default, auction, and bank repossession notices â€“ were reported on 1,887,777 U.S. properties in 2011. Of that total, 804,423 homes were taken back by lenders as REO.
Last yearâ€™s tally of nearly 1.9 million properties with a foreclosure filing seems staggering, but itâ€™s actually the lowest reported since 2007. Itâ€™s 34 percent below 2010, 33 percent below 2009, and 19 percent below the 2008 total.
RealtyTracâ€™s newly appointed CEO Brandon Moore describes foreclosure activity last year as being in â€œfull delay mode.â€
â€œThe lack of clarity regarding many of the documentation and legal issues plaguing the foreclosure industry means that we are continuing to see a highly dysfunctional foreclosure process that is inefficiently dealing with delinquent mortgages â€“ particularly in states with a judicial foreclosure process,â€ Moore said.
These delays, however, may be coming to an end. Moore says there were strong signs in the second half of 2011 that indicate lenders are finally beginning to push stalled foreclosures through in select local markets.
â€œWe expect that trend to continue this year, boosting foreclosure activity for 2012 higher than it was in 2011, though still below the peak of 2010,â€ Moore said.
Despite signs that some markets are experiencing a pickup in foreclosures, RealtyTracâ€™s analysis shows that processing timelines continued to increase.
On the national stage, properties foreclosed in the fourth quarter took an average of 348 days to complete the process, up from 336 days in the third quarter and up from 305 days in the fourth quarter of 2010.
RealtyTrac says the length of the average foreclosure process has increased 24 percent from the third quarter of 2010, when lenders began to re-evaluate foreclosure procedures as a result of documentation and affidavit errors.
New York holds the title of â€˜longest foreclosure process in the nationâ€™ â€“ an average of 1,019 days.
New Jersey documented the nationâ€™s second longest end-to-end foreclosure process, at 964 days. Florida has the third longest at 806 days. Foreclosure activity in both these states dropped more than 60 percent from 2010 to 2011.
All three states with the longest foreclosure timelines employ the judicial foreclosure process.
Texas continues to register the shortest average foreclosure process of any state, at 90 days, but that still represents an increase from 86 days in the third quarter and 81 days in the fourth quarter of 2010.
At 106 days, Delaware has the second shortest foreclosure timeline in the nation, and Kentucky lays claim to the third shortest, at 108 days.
More than 6 percent of Nevada housing units (one in 16) had at least one foreclosure filing in 2011, giving it the nationâ€™s highest state foreclosure rate for the fifth consecutive year. Thatâ€™s despite a 31 percent decrease in foreclosure activity from 2010.
Arizona registered the nationâ€™s second highest foreclosure rate for the third year in a row, with 4.14 percent of its homes (one in 24) receiving at least one filing in 2011.
California registered the nationâ€™s third highest foreclosure rate for all of 2011, with 3.19 percent (one in every 31 homes).
Other states with 2011 foreclosure rates ranking among the nationâ€™s 10 highest include: Georgia (2.71 percent), Utah (2.32 percent), Michigan (2.21 percent), Florida (2.06 percent), Illinois (1.95 percent), Colorado (1.78 percent), and Idaho (1.77 percent).