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Banks taking back fewer homes

By Judy Martel ·
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

The number of bank repossessions declined in October by 1 percent from a month earlier and 29 percent from a year ago, according to the latest foreclosure report from RealtyTrac. There were a total of 37,775 bank repossessions nationwide in October.

The decline is the result of fewer troubled loans, rising home prices that are putting underwater homeowners into positive equity and more homeowners who are staying current on mortgage payments. In addition, investors looking for bargains are snapping up properties at public auction, before the bank takes them back.

rich-and-famous-in-foreclosure-7-End-lgLenders actually initiated foreclosure action on more homes in October than they did in September, but investors swooped in before the foreclosures were completed. In October, lenders initiated foreclosure action on 58,939 homes, an increase of 2 percent from a month earlier, but a decline of 34 percent from a year ago.

Rising prices speed up foreclosures

Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said in a statement that a strong demand from investors is causing lenders to move properties more rapidly to public auction. He added that "rising home prices mean more of the loan losses can be recouped, either by selling to an investor at the auction or by repossessing the property and reselling it as bank owned."

Where the foreclosures are

In 15 states, bank repossessions increased in October from a year ago. They included Oklahoma, up 59 percent; Maryland, up 54 percent; Virginia, up 47 percent; and Ohio and Washington, both up 30 percent.

In October, the states with the five highest foreclosure rates were Florida, Nevada, Maryland, Ohio and Illinois. Of the largest cities, Miami, Tampa, Chicago and Baltimore ranked highest.

The number of foreclosed properties peaked in 2010 at 1.05 million, but that number has been dropping ever since. By the end of the year, the report estimates there will be approximately 480,000 completed foreclosures, compared with 671,251 in 2012.

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