Foreclosure filings fell dramatically during the first half of the year as processing delays at the banks, which are strapped with excess inventory of repossessed homes, continued to skew the numbers — and falsely raise hopes that the housing market is staging a recovery.
Foreclosure filings plunged 29% compared with the same period a year ago and were down 25% from the last six months of 2010, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties.
Through June 30, 1.2 million U.S. homeowners — or one in every 111 households — received a foreclosure filing, according to RealtyTrac.
The deceleration in defaults continued as the year wore on with second quarter filings — at 608,235 households — marking the lowest quarterly total since the end of 2007, when the mortgage meltdown was still in its youth.
RealtyTrac’s CEO, James Saccacio, sounded a sour note, however, contending that the drop-off in filings can be traced not to economic improvement or a pick-up in the housing market, but to processing delays brought on by the robo-signing scandal in which it was discovered that bank employees were signing foreclosure documents without following proper protocols.
“[That’s what is] pushing foreclosures further and further out — we estimate that as many as 1 million foreclosure actions that should have taken place in 2011 will now happen in 2012, or perhaps even later,” Saccacio said.
As a result, it will only prolong the housing slump, he said.