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National foreclosures drop again in April

National foreclosure filings in April hit the lowest monthly total since July 2007, a new report by the data firm RealtyTrac shows.

The filings, which include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, were reported on 188,780 properties in the U.S. last month, a 5 percent decrease over figures from March and a 14 percent decrease over April 2011 data, the report said.

In total, one in every 698 housing units in U.S. had a foreclosure filing in April, according to the online foreclosure marketing firm.

Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac, said three states with high foreclosure rates — California, Arizona and Nevada — reported “sizable decreases” that masked higher foreclosure rates in several state and local markets last month.

“Those three states and several other non-judicial foreclosure states like them more efficiently processed foreclosures last year, resulting in fewer catch-up foreclosures this year,” Moore said, in a statement.

“In addition, more distressed loans are being diverted into short sales rather than becoming completed foreclosures. Our preliminary first quarter sales data shows that pre-foreclosure sales — typically short sales — are on pace to outnumber sales of bank-owned properties during the quarter in California, Arizona and 10 other states.”

In the Baltimore metropolitan area, the April foreclosure filings posted reflected a 20 percent increase over April 2011 figures, the RealtyTrac report showed. That reflected a jump in activity — there was a 10 percent increase in foreclosure filings between March and April 2012, said Michelle Schneider, a spokesperson for RealtyTrac.

Overall last month, there were 637 foreclosure notices filed in the Baltimore metropolitan region, or one in every 1,777 housing units.

In Maryland, statewide figures posted showed 1,434 total foreclosure filings last month — or one in every 1,659 housing units, according to the report. Those figures were a 4.4 percent decrease over April 2011 data.

David McIlvaine, a Realtor with Keller Williams Select Realtors in Baltimore and former president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, said there are a lot of foreclosed properties in the system that haven’t yet moved to listings.

“I’ve been told by the banks that we work for that the houses are in the system and are coming out by the third quarter,” McIlvaine said. “The spigot is ready to be opened.”

Overall, 11 of the largest 20 metro areas in the U.S. population-wise posted annual increases in foreclosure activity, led by Tampa and Miami. Other cities such as St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta also posted annual increases in foreclosure filings.

Cities that posted the largest drop in annual foreclosure activity included Seattle, Phoenix, San Francisco, Washington and Los Angeles, the report showed.