[author: Courtney Sherwood]
America’s foreclosure crisis may have peaked across much of the country – though tough times are far from over, according to data released this week by CoreLogic.
In the first three months of this year, 198,000 homes were foreclosed upon – down 14.7 percent from the same quarter in 2011. And the number of borrowers who are past-due on their mortgages is at its lowest point since July 2009, said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. And in areas where foreclosures first skyrocketed, the improvements have been most pronounced.
The laws that govern how foreclosures are handled seem to play a role in how well each state is recovering from often devastating collapses in property values. In states like Nevada, Arizona and California — where foreclosures can take place outside the court system, through a process called non-judicial foreclosure – the outlook is improving fairly rapidly, Fleming said. “Some judicial foreclosure states are also improving, like Florida, but not to the extent of non-judicial markets,” he said.
Judicial foreclosure state or not, if you’re behind on your loan you cannot count on your lender to do the right thing, Los Angeles attorney Ron Ostrin warned in a recent video interview for Lawyers.com. When it comes to fighting a lender, you should “Get help early, because that’s the best way for you to get the best result,” Ostrin said. View the video here.
The country’s foreclosure laws are about evenly divided across the states, with 24 states requiring judicial foreclosures and 26 plus Washington, D.C., allowing non-judicial proceedings. In non-judicial states, the foreclosure rate climbed to nearly four times “normal,” peaked in 2010, and is now at about double the historical level. In judicial foreclosure states, foreclosure rates climbed to nearly six times normal levels, and have dropped to about four times historical levels, according to CoreLogic.
Click chart to enlarge
New figures about “short sales,” foreclosure alternatives in which homes sell for less than the owner owes, suggest that plenty of borrowers are still in trouble, even if foreclosures are dropping off. Short sales accounted for 23.9 percent of January home sales, compared with 19.7 percent for foreclosures, according to Lender Processing Services. A $25 billion settlement is forcing mortgage servicers to respond to short sale offers more quickly in the past, giving homeowners more options when they run into trouble.
But the number of borrowers who are struggling to stay in their homes is also dropping, according to CoreLogic’s data.
Still, with 1.4 million homes in some stage of the foreclosure process in March, the U.S. still has a deep hole to dig out of.
If you’re in over your head and unable to handle your mortgage payments, you should contact a real estate attorney immediately. An attorney can help you avoid foreclosure and assist you in negotiating with your mortgage lender to begin the process.Learn more about foreclosures and short sales, or find an attorney near you on Lawyers.com.