RealtyTrac releases foreclosure data for first half of 2012

A foreclosed home stands boarded up on February 9, 2012 in Islip, New York.

Jeremy Hobson: Sometimes it's useful to go right back to the beginning to check on the one of the things that started this global slowdown in the first place....

I'm talking about the housing market. There are some new figures out this morning from RealtyTrac about the number of foreclosures in the U.S. in the first half of this year, and they may shed some light on the so-far elusive housing recovery.

Marketplace's David Gura is with us live from Washington with the details. Good morning.

David Gura: Good morning, Jeremy.

Hobson: Well, what are the numbers telling us from RealtyTrac, David?

Gura: Well, overall we're seeing a downward trend when it comes to foreclosure activity. But we're still talking about a lot of foreclosures. In the first six months of this year, there have been more than a million filings. So that's overall; if we hone in on the last few months -- and on June, in particular -- there have been some increases in the number of properties starting the foreclosure process.

And Daren Blomquist, who is with RealtyTrac, says that could foreshadow more foreclosures in second half of this year. Right now, he says that the housing market is "bouncing along the bottom," and that home prices may go up a little bit...

Daren Blomquist: …but in the long run, I don't think you're going to see a sustainable home price recovery until we've cleared this inventory of distressed properties.

And it looks like that's starting to happen in many markets across the country, Jeremy.

Hobson: Well if he says it's "bouncing along the bottom," is that an indication that it has hit bottom?

Gura: That's what he's saying; I should say, he's not alone. We're starting to see median home prices go up in many markets. And we're starting to clear that inventory of distressed properties that he's talking about. Blomquist says that right now, one out of every four homes sold is a distressed property. He says we'll start to see prices recover for the long-term once we get to a point where one in every ten homes sold is a distressed property.

And one other thing here: RealtyTrac found that in 13 states, the average time it's taken lenders to foreclose on properties has gone down, Jeremy. And that's just another sign lenders are starting to get through that backlog.

Hobson: Marketplace's David Gura in Washington, thanks a lot.

Gura: Thank you.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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