Foreclosure filings - default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions - were reported on 152,500 U.S. properties in March, a drop of 1% from the previous month and down 23% from March 2012, according to RealtyTrac.
The decline in March helped first quarter foreclosure numbers fall to the lowest mark since the second quarter of 2007.
Foreclosure filings were reported on 442,117 properties in the first quarter, down 12% from the previous quarter and 23% from the first quarter of 2012.
“Although the overall national foreclosure trend continues to head lower, late-blooming foreclosures are bolting higher in some local markets where aggressive foreclosure prevention efforts in previous years are wearing off,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.
Properties repossessed by lenders in the first quarter took an average of 477 days to finish the foreclosure process, up from 414 days in the previous quarter and up from 370 days in the first quarter of 2012. It was the highest average number of days to foreclose dating to the first quarter of 2007, and a record high since RealtyTrac began tracking the metric six years ago.
The average time to complete a foreclosure increased from the previous quarter in 39 states, led by Oregon (up 61%), Arkansas (up 42%), Texas (up 40%), Tennessee (up 37%), and Michigan (up 22%).
Despite a 4% decline in the average time to complete a foreclosure from the previous quarter, New York continued to log the longest state foreclosure timeline at 1,049 days from foreclosure start to bank repossession (REO). New Jersey came in second highest at 1,002 days followed by Florida at 893 days, Hawaii at 824 days and Illinois at 720 days.
Texas documented the shortest time to complete a foreclosure at 159 days despite a 40% rise from the previous quarter. Virginia documented the second shortest foreclosure timeline at 166 days, followed by Delaware at 168 days, Maine at 182 days, and Alabama at 186 days.
Florida had 85,672 foreclosure filings in the first quarter, the highest of any state. The figure amounts to one in every 104 housing units, the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate and nearly three times the national average of one in every 296 housing units. Florida foreclosure activity in the first quarter rose 7% from the previous quarter and 17% from the first quarter of 2012.
One in every 79 housing units in the Miami metro area had a foreclosure filing in the first quarter, more than three times the national average and highest among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more.
Six other Florida metro areas documented foreclosure rates that ranked among the top 10: Orlando at No. 2 (one in every 86 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Ocala at No. 3 (one in 92 housing units); Tampa at No. 5 (one in 100 housing units); Jacksonville at No. 7 (one in 105 housing units); Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville at No. 8 (one in 109 housing units); and Lakeland at No. 10 (one in 128 housing units).
Other cities with foreclosure rates in the top 10 were Las Vegas at No. 4 (one in 99 housing units); Rockford, Ill., at No. 6 (one in 102 housing units); and Chicago at No. 9 (one in 116 housing units).