New data from RealtyTrac Inc. shows that fewer U.S. homes are completing the foreclosure process and being seized by banks. The main reason is because investors increasingly are snapping up such residences when they go on the public auction block. The trend reflects a growing interest among investors in purchasing homes before they exit the foreclosure pipeline and end up on the for-sale market. Last month, a total of 37,775 houses nationwide completed the foreclosure process -- a 1 percent decrease from the month before and a 29 percent slide from October 2012. RealtyTrac researchers further found that lenders initiated foreclosure action against 58,939 homes in October -- up 2 percent from the month before, but a whopping 34 percent decrease from the same month a year earlier.
On an annual basis, foreclosure starts have been retreating nationally for 15 consecutive months. At the same time, home repossessions have decreased on a year-over-year basis for 11 months in a row thanks to fewer homeowners falling behind on their mortgage payments. Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac, concludes, "We're still firmly on the road back to normal foreclosure levels, but continue to see the foreclosure problem persist in areas that had delays in the foreclosure process." Those areas generally include states such as Florida and Illinois where the courts are required to sign off on foreclosures.