SALT LAKE CITY — The number of people defaulting on their mortgages fell significantly last year, a new report stated.
The RealtyTrac Year-End 2012 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report showed 2.3 million foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported in 2012, down 3 percent from 2011 and a decrease of 36 percent from the peak of 2.9 million properties in 2010.
The report also showed that one in every 72 households, or 1.39 percent of U.S. housing units, had at least one foreclosure filing during the year, down from 1.45 percent in 2011 and 2.23 percent in 2010.
Utah ranked 13th with a rate of one in 74 housing units registering a foreclosure filing — 1.35 percent — which was a decrease of nearly 40 percent from 2011 and down more than 59 percent from 2010.
Last year, foreclosure activity decreased in 25 states from 2011, led by Nevada with a 57 percent decrease. Utah and Oregon each fell 40 percent; Arizona was down 33 percent; California declined 25 percent; and Michigan saw foreclosure filings fall 23 percent, according to the report.
Conversely, foreclosure activity rose in 25 states, including New Jersey, which saw a 55 percent hike. Elsewhere, Florida was up 53 percent; Connecticut jumped 48 percent; Indiana had a 46 percent increase; Illinois climbed 33 percent; and New York increased 31 percent.
Florida posted the nation's highest state foreclosure rate in 2012, with 3.11 percent of housing units — one in 32 — receiving a foreclosure filing during the year. Other states with high foreclosure rates included Nevada (2.7 percent), Arizona (2.69 percent), Georgia (2.58 percent) and Illinois (2.58 percent).
The report stated that in January 2013, 10.9 million homeowners nationwide — 26 percent of all homes with a mortgage — were seriously underwater, meaning they owed at least 25 percent more on their home than what the property was worth. That was down from 12.5 million homeowners in January 2012.
“2012 was the year of the judicial foreclosure, with foreclosure activity increasing from 2011 in 20 of the 26 states that primarily use the judicial process,” said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president. “Meanwhile, foreclosure activity continued to decline in 19 of the 24 states that use the more streamlined non-judicial foreclosure process, but there could be a backlog of delayed foreclosures building up in some of those states (due to) recent state legislation and court rulings that raise the bar for lenders to foreclose.”
According to RealtyTrac, judicial foreclosure proceedings have mortgages that lack a power of sale clause. In such instances, many states require the foreclosure to be processed through state courts. If the court confirms that the debt is in default, an auction is held for the sale of the property in order to acquire funds to repay the lender.
This option differs from non-judicial foreclosures, typical in states like Utah, which are usually processed without court intervention.
“We expect to see continued increases in judicial foreclosure states near the beginning of the year as lenders finish catching up with the backlogs in those states, and another set of increases in some non-judicial states near the end of the year as lenders adjust to the new laws and process some deferred foreclosures in those states,” Blomquist said.