The number of U.S. homes starting the foreclosure process has dropped “well below” its pre-recession peak and is likely to slip even further, housing data provider RealtyTrac reported on Wednesday.
During the first half of the year, 304,439 properties began foreclosure proceedings, down 3% from the activity of the first half of 2014, the Midyear 2015 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report said. All told, 597,589 properties were in some stage of the foreclosure process between January and June. That activity includes default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.
Although 117,055 properties were in some stage of the foreclosure process in June — down 8% from April — that single-month number is 9% higher than it was in June 2014.
Florida got both good news and bad from the report: Although January-to-June foreclosure activity there dipped 22% from a year ago, the state still has the country’s highest foreclosure rate. One out of every 95 homes in the sunshine state started foreclosure proceedings this year.
A dwindling inventory of foreclosed properties on the market is a sign of a strengthening economy, as fewer homeowners are defaulting on their loans. It also clears some of the deeply discounted, distressed product from the housing inventory, which means fewer sellers of new and non-distressed existing homes have to compete with the cheaper stock when setting prices for their own for-sale properties.