Florida foreclosures were down nearly 22 percent in January, to 10,007 from 12,786 in December. That mirrors a nationwide trend, according to the latest U.S. Foreclosure Index report from Sacramento, Calif.-based Foreclosures.com.
It’s unclear whether this is a trend reversal, or just a blip in a continuing slide.
“Efforts last year by government and industry to lay the groundwork for housing recovery finally are yielding the hoped-for slowdown in the foreclosure hemorrhage,” Foreclosures.com President Alexis McGee said.
Nationwide, she reported, foreclosures were down 25 percent, to 72,694 in January from 97,841 in December. That’s the lowest number of completed foreclosures since April 2008. Only Texas and Michigan saw a month-over-month increase in foreclosures.
Some factors McGee said could have influenced the numbers include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s moratorium on foreclosures before the holidays, major lenders emphasizing loan workouts and states taking steps to slow down foreclosures.
Additional evidence that a trend change may be under way is a 12 percent drop in pre-foreclosures, to 166,860 in January from 190,467 in December.
“Interesting numbers, but they don’t confirm a trend reversal yet,” said real estate analyst Jack McCabe, CEO of Deerfield Beach-based McCabe Research & Consulting.
He points to the huge slug of adjustable-rate mortgages that are preparing to reset their interest rates and payment schedules.
“There is a tsunami of adjustable-rate mortgages of all kinds and descriptions that will start to reset in May – and continue for the next two years,” McCabe said. “If plans are not quickly implemented by government and lenders to rework or reschedule them, then the worst is still ahead of us in foreclosures, price erosion and pain.”