Foreclosure rates dip in the metro area

Darci Marchese,

WASHINGTON – Across the nation, more people bought foreclosures at the end of last year. But locally, foreclosure sales fell in Maryland and flatlined in Virginia.

About one out of every four homes nationwide that sold in the fourth quarter of 2011 was a foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure sales were up about 20 percent from the third quarter, but down 26 percent compared to all sales in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Why the decrease?

“Sales of foreclosures in the fourth quarter continued to be slowed by questions surrounding proper foreclosure paperwork and procedures,” said Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, in a news release.

RealtyTrac expects foreclosure sales to increase this year as lenders start to aggressively dispose of distressed homes.

Nationwide, the average sales price of homes in foreclosure was $164,944 in the fourth quarter. That’s nearly identical to the prices in the third quarter of 2011.

How does the D.C. metro area stack up?

Foreclosures in Maryland continued to dip. Foreclosure sales fell another 19 percent from the previous quarter and down 35 percent from a year ago.

But just like the rest of the nation, the decrease in the number of foreclosures doesn’t reflect a recovering market. It’s just another sign that foreclosures are bogged down in the courts.

The numbers “reflect a market that (is in) delay mode and not efficiently disposing of these distressed properties,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.

About 12 percent of all home sales in the fourth quarter in Maryland were foreclosures. The average price was $171,872.

In Virginia, foreclosure sales made up nearly 19 percent of all sales but were relatively flat from the quarter before. Analysts say Virginia’s market has recovered and settling into a new normal.

The entire foreclosure process takes 130 days in Virginia, compared to 600 in Maryland, Blomquist said. Virginia has cleared out many of its foreclosures already.

While there is no data by RealtyTrac for D.C. in the fourth quarter, a snapshot of the entire year shows just 6 percent of all D.C. home sales were foreclosures in 2011. The average sales price was $285,343.

Foreclosures are backed up in the courts in D.C. and more are possible later this year, Blomquist said.

Read RealtyTrac’s full report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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