Foreclosure activity across the U.S. continues to recede with trends at the end of the third quarter marking 36 months of declines, according to Irvine-based RealtyTrac.
U.S. foreclosure starts in the third quarter were at a seven-year low. A total of 174,366 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time during the quarter, down 13% from the previous quarter and down 39% from a year ago to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2006.
The RealtyTrac results across western Arkansas from Fort Smith to Bella Vista were mixed in the third quarter, compared the same period last year.
Benton County reported 331 foreclosure filings in the third quarter, a 59% increase from the year-ago period. Washington County had 132 foreclosure filings initiated in the third quarter, down 15% from the period in 2012.
The Fort Smith metro area also showed mixed results with Crawford County foreclosures dipping 4.17% to 23 new filings in the third quarter. Sebastian County had 74 new filings in the quarter, up 21.31% from the same period last year
The foreclosure results for the month of September were also mixed in the region when compared to the same period last year. Benton County bucked the national downward trend, while the other three counties in the region posted decreases.
93 filings in Benton County, up 1%
32 filings in Washington County, down 36%
15 filings in Sebastian County, down 37%
4 filings in Crawford County, down 69%
“The September and third quarter foreclosure numbers show a housing market that is haltingly returning to health,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “In a healthy housing market foreclosures are rare but streamlined while still protecting the rights of the homeowner. While foreclosures are clearly becoming fewer and farther between in most markets, the increasing time it takes to foreclose is holding back a more robust and sustainable recovery.”
“The sharp jumps in foreclosure activity in some local markets may come as a surprise to some,” Blomquist said.
He said spikes in activity demonstrate that while millions of distressed homeowners have been pulled back from the precipice by foreclosure prevention programs over the past several years, once those programs expire or are exhausted, a percentage of the troubled homeowners are still susceptible to falling into foreclosure.
Jim Long, agent with Crye-Leike Real Estate in Bentonville, said there are 354 foreclosures for sale in the Multiple Listing Service that includes the Fort Smith market. The number of listings is down from 373 this time last month.
Foreclosure listings peaked at 393 in July, rising from 222 in March of this year. The listings have slowed a bit, according to Long, who adds the clean, well-kept properties are selling fast. He said the recent government shutdown does not seem to have impacted the already slow trickle of new foreclosure listing making their way back on the market.
The average time to complete a foreclosure in the U.S. rose to 551 days in the third quarter. The time period from default to REO listing rose 5% in the recent quarter as two states, New York and New Jersey took more than 1,000 days to complete the process on average.
On the short-end of the spectrum it took just 160 days in Maine and 164 days in Texas to complete the foreclosure process. The average time to foreclose in the Natural State is roughly 200 days.
In Arkansas there were 533 new foreclosure filings in September, down 6.82% from the same month last year.
In the third quarter there were 1,007 new foreclosure starts across the state with 995 foreclosure completions. Activity rose 47% from a year ago.
The top 10 city foreclosures in the state for the third quarter include:
• Little Rock
• Hot Springs
• Bella Vista
• Fort Smith
• North Little Rock