US foreclosures fall to five-year low

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

US foreclosures fall to five-year low

The number of foreclosures available within the US property market has fallen to the lowest level in five years, according to the latest statistics released by RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties.

180,427 properties in the US were considered to be foreclosed in September, a 7 per cent decline from August and down more than 16 per cent from a year earlier. That's the lowest number of foreclosed properties since September 2007.

Part of the reason for this drop is the fact that the government's and the banks' efforts to prevent homeowners from falling into foreclosure have taken hold. The government-sponsored Home Affordable Modification Program has helped more than a million borrowers obtain more affordable mortgages, while banks are looking for ways to stop costly and drawn out foreclosures by agreeing to short sales (where a property is sold for less than what is owed on the mortgage) or opting to refinance loans.

Low mortgage levels have also helped home owners to hold on to their properties, with many refinancing their mortgages to take advantage of the lower rates and reduce their monthly payments. The improving US economy and fewer job losses are also being given as reasons behind this dip in foreclosures.

Going forward, RealtyTrac expect fewer bank repossessed properties to enter the market. The number of foreclosure starts (homes at the first stage of the repossession process), were down by 15 per cent in September compared with 12 months earlier.

"Foreclosures are making little noise in the housing market - at least on a national level," said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac's vice president.

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