Residential foreclosures in Arkansas moved at a slow pace in February affecting 457 households across the state. The number of distressed filings fell 73.6% from a year ago, according to Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac.
While the year-over-year data shows a major decline in foreclosures, the number of new filings increased 67% from January, an indication the backlog created by a federal court ruling in September is trudging forward.
RealtyTrac reports 152 new foreclosure filings in Benton and Washington counties, down 73% from a year ago. For a two-county population of 424,404, roughly one in 1,200 households were in jeopardy of foreclosure last month.
Crawford and Sebastian counties together reported 19 new filings in February, a fraction of the 86 filings a year earlier. These two counties show a population of 187,692 with one in every 3,400 households in some phase of foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac.
Local real estate professionals say foreclosure listings pulled last fall are slowly making their way back on the market, but banks are showing some restraint in an effort to avoid putting too many homes on the market and potentially driving down home prices.
“February’s numbers point to a gradually rising foreclosure tide as some of the barriers that have been holding back foreclosures are removed,” said Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac.
Moore said the foreclosure and mortgage settlement filed in court earlier this week will help pave the way to a properly functioning foreclosure process by providing a clear roadmap for necessary foreclosures, particularly in the 25 judicial states.
Arkansas is one of 24 states with a non-judicial foreclosure process — an abbreviated method that does not require a court hearing or judge’s signature.
In Northwest Arkansas and the Fort Smith area the number of new filings in February were split fairly even between those posted for trustee sale and homes already taken back by lenders. There were no new notices of default posted last month for the entire state. The default notice is the first of three steps in the foreclosure process and occurs when a homeowner becomes more than 90 days past due.
Northwest Arkansas (Properties in the foreclosure process)
Fort Smith Region (Properties in the foreclosure process)
MOST FILINGS PER HOUSEHOLDS (Top 5 Arkansas counties)
1 filing per 1,111 households
1 filing per 1,275 households
1 filing per 1,400 households
1 filing per 1,513 households
1 filing per 1,937 households