The U.S. foreclosure crisis has started to "plateau," with the number of U.S. homes in some stage of the process declining 9% in April from the month before, according to RealtyTrac.
Homes receiving some kind of foreclosure filing in April — a notice of default, scheduled auction or bank repossession — declined 2% from April 2009, the first year-over-year drop since the Irvine company began publishing its monthly report in January 2005.
One in every 387 homes received a foreclosure filing last month, RealtyTrac said.
While the year-over-year decline was an "important milestone," RealtyTrac Chief Executive James J. Saccacio said, bank repossessions in April hit a monthly record, indicating that lenders were beginning to take final action against troubled borrowers long in limbo. Many foreclosures were frozen last year as several foreclosure moratoriums were imposed and the Obama administration pressured lenders to work with defaulting homeowners.
"Foreclosure activity has begun to plateau — but at a very high level that will not drop off in the near future," Saccacio said. "We expect a similar pattern to continue for most of this year, with the overall numbers staying at a high level and ripples of activity hitting the various stages of the foreclosure process as lenders systematically work through the backlog."
A total of 103,672 properties received notices of default in April, a 12% decrease from March and a 27% drop from April 2009. Foreclosure auctions fell 13% from the month before to 137,643, a 1% increase from April 2009. And bank repossessions hit a monthly record of 92,432 in April, an increase of 1% from March and a 45% increase from April 2009.
California had the nation's fourth-highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 192 homes receiving a filing, despite decreases in both monthly and annual notices, RealtyTrac said. Nevada, Arizona and Florida held the top three spots.