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Foreclosure activity trends lower in Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith area

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

The foreclosure train is slowing across the Natural State, particularly in Benton County, that once led in the number of distressed homes. Irvine, Calif.,-based RealtyTrac reports 389 foreclosure filings in Arkansas during April, down 38.8% from a year ago. 

In Northwest Arkansas there were 39 new filings in Benton County and 19 new filings in Washington County, down 67% and 71%, respectively, when compared to the year-ago period.

The Fort Smith metro area had just 17 new foreclosure filings last month, 14 of those were in Sebastian County and three in Crawford County. Filings plunged 33% and 78%, respectively, in the two counties from the same month in 2013.

States like Arkansas continue work through the remnants of foreclosures left over from the recent housing crisis, according to Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. He said inventory levels are low and the foreclosures coming back into the pipeline will provide some much-wanted inventory for investors and buyers looking for rehab projects.

Vicki Briolat, agent with Crye-Leike Real Estate in Bentonville, said there are 153 foreclosure homes listed for sale in the local Multiple Listing Service among the four counties referenced in this report. The number of local foreclosure listings have declined from 273 in February and they are down from 322 in December. 

“We are seeing very few new foreclosures come into the market, and inventory is very low now. Homes in good shape are selling fast,” Briolat said.

A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 3.7% of mortgages were at least 90 days delinquent in the first quarter of this year. This is down from 3.9% in the fourth quarter of 2013. 

About 145,000 individuals had new foreclosure notations added to their credit reports in the first quarter, 12,000 fewer than the previous quarter. At the same time new mortgage originations dropped by $120 million in the first quarter.  

Mortgage debt totaled $8.17 trillion in the first quarter, growing by $233 billion from the prior year.

Across the nation, RealtyTrac said 115,830 U.S. properties in April were in the process of foreclosure, down 1% from the previous month and 20% lower than in  April 2013. The report also shows one in every 1,137 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.

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APRIL FORECLOSURE NUMBERS
Benton County: 39 filings, down from 118 in April 2013
Washington County: 13 filings, down from 19
Sebastian County: 14 filings, down from 8
Crawford County: 3 fiilngs, down from 8
Arkansas: 389 filings, down from 338

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