A new report released by Lender Processing Services this week (LPS) shows that foreclosure activity picked up significantly during the month of March. As of the end of March, LPS’ analysis shows the foreclosure inventory stood at 2.2 million loans ??” a new all-time high.
The company calculates foreclosure inventory as the number of loans that have been referred to a foreclosure attorney but have not yet reached the final stage of foreclosure sale. LPS says the March figure represents 4.21 percent of the nation’s outstanding mortgages.
The number of new foreclosure actions in March ??” 270,681 ??” increased 33 percent from the previous month.
At the same time, LPS says foreclosure sales also increased significantly, suggesting that the halt in activity due to various moratoria may be passing.
RealtyTrac reported a similar pickup in foreclosure activity during March when releasing its first-quarter tallies last month.
LPS’ analysis shows that the nation’s foreclosure inventory is eight times historical “norms,” while delinquencies have dropped to about 1.8 times the 1995-2005 average.
The company says delinquencies continued to head south in March, dropping by more than 11 percent month-over-month to their lowest level since 2008, as more delinquent loans either cured or were moved into foreclosure. Based on LPS’ historical data, delinquencies are down nearly 20 percent since this time last year.
Early-stage delinquencies have led the decline, as fewer problem loans enter the pipeline. In fact, 30-day and 60-day delinquent inventories are now approaching pre-crisis levels, according to LPS, with new problem loans now less than half 2009’s peak levels.
The company says it’s important to note the impact of seasonality, as the first quarter of virtually every year shows a drop in new delinquencies, and historically March is consistently the month with the largest declines.
LPS’ study also found that loans in foreclosure, on average, have been delinquent for 549 days. Thirty-one percent of the loans in foreclosure have not made a payment in over two years.
Altogether, the company reports that there were 6,333,040 single-family mortgages past due or in foreclosure as of the end of March.
That figure is the lowest it’s been since late 2008, and LPSsays the impact of modification activity is “apparent.” The company found that 23 percent of loans that were 90-plus days delinquent a year ago are current today.