Foreclosures fall even as judges ramp up

U.S. foreclosure activity in June fell to the lowest level since December of 2006, but certain states are seeing a rise in activity, as judges work through tremendous backlogs of delinquent loans. Close to 128,000 properties received some kind of foreclosure filing in June, down 35 percent from a year ago, according to a new report from online foreclosure sales and analytics company RealtyTrac. Newly started foreclosures fell 21 percent month-to-month to the lowest level since the end of 2005.

Bank repossessions, the final stage of the foreclosure process, fell 9 percent month-to-month and were down 35 percent from a year ago. Still the numbers are on pace for nearly a half a million properties to be repossessed in 2013. That's an improvement, but still well above normal levels.

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The picture is also mixed geographically – Arkansas (up 143 percent), Oklahoma (up 103 percent), Maryland (up 74 percent), Washington (up 71 percent), New Jersey (up 33 percent), and New York (up 21 percent) –as states that require a judge in the foreclosure process as well as those with new laws protecting borrowers, are seeing a spike in repossessions.

The yard around a foreclosed home is maintained by a bank-hired worker in Miami.
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The yard around a foreclosed home is maintained by a bank-hired worker in Miami.

"The increases in judicial foreclosure auctions demonstrate that these delayed foreclosure cases are now being moved more quickly through to foreclosure completion," notes RealtyTrac's Daren Blomquist in the report.

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"Given the rising home prices in most of these markets, it is an opportune time for lenders to dispose of these distressed properties, either at the foreclosure auction to a third-party buyer, or by repossessing the property at the auction and subsequently selling it as a bank-owned home."

Judicial foreclosure auctions were up 34 percent from June of 2012, as Realtors report "brisk" sales of these distressed properties. Investors and regular buyers have been competing for a decreasing supply of properties. Nationwide, inventories of all homes are down dramatically, as a large number of underwater borrowers and borrowers with very little home equity are still unable to sell.

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Florida, Nevada, Illinois, Ohio and Georgia posted the top five state foreclosure rates for the first half of the year, according to RealtyTrac.

By CNBC's Diana Olick. Follow her on Twitter @Diana_Olick or on Facebook at

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