Signs of a Real Estate Recovery?

The number of home owners who were put on notice for defaulting on their mortgage payments dropped last month to the lowest level since 2006, RealtyTrac reports.

Meanwhile, foreclosure filings for the eighth straight month also were down as filings fell 33 percent in May compared to a year earlier and 2 percent month-over-month. Also, lenders took back fewer homes in May, the second straight month of declines. And bank repossessions were down in May too down nearly 30 percent over the last 12 months.

Is this a sign of a recovery in real estate, which has been bogged down by a high number of foreclosures over the last several years?

Experts are still cautious. Lingering delays in banks’ foreclosure process may be the culprit for the declining numbers, they say, and not an overall improving picture of the number of home owners facing foreclosure.

“Foreclosure processing delays continue to mask the true face of the foreclosure situation,” says James Saccacio, the CEO of RealtyTrac. “Lenders are somewhat unevenly pushing batches of bad loans through foreclosure as they overhaul their paperwork and documentation procedures.”

Overall, banks hold 2 million homes in some stage of foreclosure. Banks are on track to repossess about 200,000 fewer homes this year than in 2010; the projection is 800,000 this year compared to 1 million last year.

Where Foreclosures Are Highest
Nevada continues to lead with the highest rate of foreclosuresone in every 103 households received a foreclosure notice there in May.

Here are the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rate in May:

1. Nevada
2. Arizona
3. California
4. Michigan
5. Utah
6. Georgia
7. Idaho
8. Florida
9. Illinois
10. Colorado

Source: “Bank Processing Delays Led to Drop in Homes Entering Foreclosure Process, Repossessed in May,” Associated Press (June 16, 2011) and “Foreclosures Fall for 8th Straight Month,” CNNMoney (June 16, 2011)

Read more:

U.S. Recovery: ‘Housing’ or Lending Illusion?