According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings fell to 199,000 in March 2012, a 17% decrease from March 2011. Last month marks the first time since July 2007 that foreclosure filings numbered less than 200,000 on a monthly basis.
The generic term “foreclosure filing” is used to group all types of foreclosure activity into a single reading. It includes default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions.
As in most months, foreclosure density varied by region. Six states accounted for more than half of the nation’s repossessed homes in March:
- Florida : 13.6% of all bank repossessions
- California : 12.0% of all bank repossessions
- Georgia : 8.0% of all bank repossessions
- Michigan : 7.5% of all bank repossessions
- Arizona : 6.5% of all bank repossessions
- Illinois : 6.4% of all bank repossessions
At the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota and Washington, D.C. were home to the fewest bank repossessions, with 0.03% and 0.02% of the national total, respectively.
Nevada No Longer the Foreclosure Capital of the Nation
Also noteworthy in the RealtyTrac report is that Nevada relinquished its title as Top Foreclosure State after 62 consecutive top-ranking months. In March, 1 in every 301 Nevada homes received some form of a foreclosure filing. The March rate was a higher 1 in 300 in neighboring Arizona.
Foreclosures Represent a Good Opportunity for Buyers
For home buyers, today’s foreclosure market represents an interesting opportunity. Homes purchased while in the various stages of foreclosure can often be bought at lower prices relative to homes not in foreclosure. It’s one of the reasons why foreclosed homes now account for 20 percent of all home resales.
However, don’t confuse less expensive for less costly. Foreclosed homes are often sold “as-is” and may be in various stages of disrepair. Fixing a foreclosed home to make it habitable could wipe out the savings realized from the reduced price. Make sure you get some good repair estimates before you purchase a foreclosed home. Your best real estate “deal” could actually be a non-distressed home in good condition.
If you’re buying foreclosures — or even considering it — be sure to talk with a real estate agent first. The process of buying a foreclosed property is different from buying a “regular” home, so you’ll want to work with an agent who knows what they’re doing.