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Foreclosure Activity Mixed as Mortgage Servicers Deal with the Fallout from Recent Documentation Issues
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." Servicers appear to have their hands full and it may be a while before foreclosure activity stabilizes," says Sean O'Toole, CEO, and Founder of PropertyRadar.com. "While it seems unlikely at the moment, it is our hope that 2011 will bring clarity to the foreclosures process for all involved."
Dropping for the third month in a row, Notice of Trustee Sale filings fell 11.0 percent from November to December to 7,428 filings. Conversely, foreclosure sales saw their first significant increase in months, climbing 17.2 percent from November, but still 8.8 percent lower than a year earlier.
Notice of Default filings fell 16.7 percent month-over-month in California, while Notice of Trustee filings rose 1.5 percent from November. Foreclosure sales dropped slightly, with 0.7 percent fewer sales back to the bank and 8.2 perfect fewer purchased by third parties, typically investors. The time it took investors to resell properties they purchased at auction rose 6.1 percent from November and is up 51.0 percent from a year earlier to 157 days on average.
Notice of Default filings finished their downward trend for 2010 with a decline of 2.3 percent from November to December. Activity on the courthouse steps increased in December, with both foreclosure sales and cancellations increasing. Foreclosure sales rose 24.3 percent month-over-month and 41.2 percent year-over-year, while cancellations jumped 39.8 percent from November.\
After dropping for three months, foreclosure filings rose in Oregon. Notice of Default filings increased by 18.4 percent while Notice of Trustee Sale filings increased 7.4 percent from November to December. Conversely, foreclosure sales dropped, with sales back to the bank declining by 20.8 percent and sales to third parties declining 23.1 percent. Year-over-year, both foreclosure filings, and sales are down. Compared to December 2009, Notice of Default filings are down 19.3 percent, Notice of Trustee Sale filings are 40.4 percent lower and foreclosure sales are down 38.6 percent.
For the second, month Washington saw a dramatic drop in the number of Notice of Trustee Sales filed, down 20.1 percent from November, and 44.5 percent compared to October. Foreclosures sales, conversely, began to rebound. The number of foreclosure sales that went back to the bank increased 15.1 percent and those sold to third parties also increased 15.1 percent from November to December.