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Fort Smith area, Northwest Arkansas foreclosure filings continue to dwindle

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

Arkansas is among the majority of states where foreclosure fillings are subsiding to five or six year lows as the housing market recovery shows strength in a slowly improving economy. There were 391 foreclosure filings across the Natural State in May, down 53.89% from a year ago, according to Irvine, Calif.,-based RealtyTrac.

Nationwide, there were 109,824 filings for default notices, trustee sales, and bank repossessions in May, down 26% from a year ago and the lowest monthly level since December 2006, RealtyTrac reports.

All but 11 states posted annual decreases in their foreclosure filings in May.

“It’s not surprising that some of the states with the longest foreclosure timelines are those with markets still dealing with increasing foreclosure activity even as the country as a whole continues to hit new lows,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “On the other hand, the increase in bank repossessions in some states with shorter foreclosure timelines like California and Oregon demonstrates there is still some pent-up foreclosure activity in those states as well.”

Arkansas is a non-judicial state, which means there is typically a shorter foreclosure timeline as a judge does not have to sign the order. The average foreclosure time in Arkansas is around 290 days, but it can happen as soon as 120 days if there is no second lien and the homeowners vacate the property prior to the scheduled sale date.

Sebastian County reported five new foreclosure filings in May, down 80% from a year ago. The rate of incident last month was one in every 10,934 households in Sebastian County. At the market peak the rate was one in every 739 households.

In smaller Crawford County, RealtyTrac reports six new foreclosure filing in May, a 33% reduction from a year ago. The incident rate was one in every 4,331 households in May, down sharply from one in every 562 housing units in December 2009 deemed near the market foreclosure peak.

In recent years Benton County consistently led the rest of the state in foreclosure activity fueled in part because of the rising home prices and easier loans made in a hyper competitive banking climate. Local real estate experts believe those days are gone as the number of new foreclosures are getter fewer and farther between.

RealtyTrac reports there were 42 filings in Benton County during May, down 74.39% from a year ago and ranking No. 10 in the state. In the height of the real estate market correction in January 2009, Benton County had 559 new foreclosures pending, according to RealtyTrac – or one in nearly 145 local households during all of 2009.

Filings per household in Benton County are down to one in every 2,213 mortgages in May, RealtyTrac reports.

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In Washington County, there were were just 13 new filings in May, down 79% from the year-ago period. At the market height the county reported 235 new filings in January 2009. The rate of incident is down from one in every 340 households at the market peak in January 2009 to one in 6,728 households in May.

Jim Long, a real estate agent with Crye-Leike Real Estate in Bentonville, said there are 205 foreclosure for sales in the local multiple listing service, which includes all four of the counties in this report. The number of listed homes are up from 153 in the listing service last month, but have trended lower over the past year. In December 2013, there were 322 listings of foreclosures in Northwest Arkansas and the Fort Smith metro area.

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