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Foreclosures: a mixed bag of good and persistently bad news

It's hard to know what to think about the local and national housing market these days, given the number of reports from diverse sources that, while converging on some details, conflict materially on important points.

Take the topic of foreclosure, for example, a subject that has been front and center -- and has stayed there -- for several years now, given the severe real estate collapse of recent years and related bankruptcy-related activity.

No less an authority than RealtyTrac, a prominent foreclosure listing firm, is issuing statements that, while tending to stress improved housing health overall across the country, continue to point to troubling conditions in many areas, most notably Florida.

Consider these numbers, for example. On the one hand, home repossession by lenders dropped nationally last month by nearly 30 percent over February 2012. On the other hand, they continue to rise in Florida, with the state once again topping the country in its foreclosure rate. Foreclosures in Florida occur, in fact, at a rate that is more than three times the national average.

Here's another sampling of statistics. Although repossession-related numbers have fallen to their lowest level in more than five years nationally, RealtyTrac still considers the rate of foreclosures to be more than double what it says is healthy.

And, thus, it continues to be a mixed bag of peaks and valleys, with decidedly good news being mixed with evidence of protracted problems.

RealtyTrac states that about 1.5 million homes across the country were at some phase of foreclosure last month.

Source: Time, "Sharp drop in US homes lost to foreclosure in February," Alex Veiga, March 14, 2013

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