Foreclosures declined nationally in December, new data show, extending a critical component of the recent housing recovery into the new year.
The sizable 19.5% decline in foreclosure inventory, accompanied by a similar drop in completed foreclosures, should help lay a path for a faster recovery in 2013. Fewer repossessed homes on the market will probably lead to higher home prices and a healthier real estate market.
“The most encouraging foreclosure trend reported here is that the inventory of foreclosed properties is almost 20% smaller than a year ago,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, the mortgage tracking firm which reported the data Friday. “This big improvement indicates we are working toward resolving the backlog of the most distressed assets in the shadow inventory.”
The number of homes in the national foreclosure inventory — mortgaged properties in some stage of the repossession process — declined 19.5% to 1.2 million in December when compared to the same month a year earlier. That was a 4.2% decline from November.
Completed foreclosures fell by 21% in December from the same month a year earlier, to total 56,000. That was a 3% decline from November’s revised 58,000, according to Santa Ana-based CoreLogic.