LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lenders stepped up action last month against homeowners who had fallen behind on their mortgage payments, taking possession of more homes and initiating the foreclosure countdown clock on many others.
Completed foreclosures jumped 11 percent nationally in May from the previous month, with monthly increases taking place in 33 states, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.
The monthly pick up reflects a rise in homes entering the foreclosure process last year. Many of those homes wound their way through the often lengthy process and ended up becoming bank-owned properties. Home repossessions, however, were down 29 percent from May last year, reflecting the long-term downward trend.
Banks also started the foreclosure process on more homes last month. Foreclosure starts rose 4 percent from April, but were down 33 percent versus May last year, the firm said.
The increases come as the U.S. housing market continues to gain strength, propelled in part by growing demand for homes at a time when there’s a thin supply of available homes for sale in many markets.
That dynamic has helped push home prices higher. They climbed nationally on an annual basis by 12.1 percent in April, the biggest gain since February 2006, according to data provider CoreLogic.
The combination of a tight inventory of homes for sale and rising prices makes for an opportune market for banks.
“Home prices are rising and demand is stronger, so they can recoup more of their losses when selling a bank-owned home, and in most cases should be able to sell relatively quickly,” said Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac.
The prospect of more bank-owned homes hitting the market also is good news for homebuyers struggling with the short supply of available homes. But not so great for homeowners, Blomquist said.
“For homeowners who are current or own their homes outright, this could slow down the recent rapid rise in home price appreciation, which could mean the value of their home does not go up as quickly in the short term,” he said.
That’s an unwelcome development, particularly for homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage, or owe more than their home is worth.
As of the end of March, 19.8 percent of all U.S. homes with a mortgage were underwater, according to data provider CoreLogic.
Rising home prices have helped drive that number down from 21.7 percent at the end of last year, and returned roughly 850,000 homes to a state of positive equity in the first three months of this year.
All told, 38,946 homes were taken back by lenders last month. Repossessions increased on a monthly basis in 33 states, including North Carolina, Oregon and Wisconsin.
At the current pace, the nation is on track to finish the year with about a half million completed foreclosures, down from 670,000 last year, Blomquist said.
Foreclosure starts totaled 72,698 homes. They increased on a monthly basis in 26 states and rose on an annual basis in 14 states, including Maryland, Connecticut, Hawaii and Arkansas.
Florida led the nation last month with an overall foreclosure rate nearly three times the national average. Rounding out the top three were Nevada and Ohio.
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Christmas officially kicked off Saturday in the city of Youngstown.
A new burger was crowned "king" of the Mahoning Valley Saturday.
A fashion show was held in Warren Saturday to help children who are living in a shelter.
Another area of low pressure will send snow to the Valley. That snow will change over to a wintry mix Sunday night which could lead to slick roads.
Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning County dedicated its 39th house on Saturday. It's been a long journey to get to this day, including the cleanup after vandals and thieves threatened the project.
Eastern Gateway Community College in Youngstown held an open house Saturday. The event is just one of many the school will be hosting to attract more students.
The sounds of the holiday season could be heard in Niles Saturday as a Valley tradition returned to the Eastwood Mall.
American Red Cross workers stayed busy Saturday at a holiday blood drive in Boardman.
UPDATE: A Canfield student won big on national television Saturday.
Allegiant Airlines will begin charging a fee for printing boarding passes beginning May 1, 2014.
Several hundred fans made the trip to Massillon to cheer on the Youngstown Cardinal Mooney football team as it went for its ninth state championship.
A Salem woman was arrested on a drug charge after a raid at her home on Thursday.
After 40 years, Dr. Richard Billak, who started the Community Corrections Association, is retiring at the end of December.
A group of local drug store workers spent part of their day giving back to some of the area's less fortunate.
The Youngstown Air Reserve Station confirmed Friday that the "Thunder Over the Valley" air show will return in the spring.
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