RealtyTrac today released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for February 2014, which shows foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 112,498 U.S. properties in February, a 10 percent decrease from January and down 27 percent from February 2013 to the lowest monthly total since December 2006 — a more than seven-year low.
In the Chicago metro area foreclosure filings fell 27.82% month-over-month in February and a stunning 46.89% year-over-year. Chicago continues to have a relatively high foreclosure rate, ranking fifth among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas.
“Cold weather and a short month certainly contributed to a seasonal drop in foreclosure activity in February, but the reality is that new activity is no longer the biggest threat to the housing market when it comes to foreclosures,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “The biggest threat from foreclosures going forward is properties that have been lingering in the foreclosure process for years, many of them vacant with neither the distressed homeowner or the foreclosing lender taking responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the home — or at the very least facilitating a sale to a new homeowner more likely to perform needed upkeep and maintenance.
“One in every five homes in the foreclosure process nationwide have been vacated by the distressed homeowner, but it is closer to one in three foreclosures in some cities,” Blomquist added. “These properties drag down home values in the surrounding neighborhood and contribute to a climate of uncertainty and low inventory in local housing markets.”