Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

Foreclosures rise in first quarter, dip in February

A new report indicates that the number of distressed properties in the real estate market increased fairly considerably in the first three months of 2013.

According to foreclosure and housing information firm RealtyTrac, there were approximately 1.5 million distressed properties at some point in the foreclosure process between January and March. That's 9 percent more when compared to the same three-month period last year but down sharply from 2010, the year in which the height of the housing recession occurred. At that time, there were roughly 32 percent more foreclosures.

The report also detailed how in debt many of those who went through foreclosure were in the first quarter of the year. RealtyTrac notes that in 60 percent of cases, loan amounts were under $200,000. The remainder owed between $200,000 and $400,000.

Approximately one-third of these properties were no longer being lived in. RealtyTrac says that in 35 percent of cases, these foreclosed properties had been vacated. However, among individual states, the proportion of owner-vacated properties was in excess of 50 percent.

February foreclosures slide
While foreclosures may have ticked higher on a quarterly basis, the same can't be said when taking into account monthly data. In a separate report released by property information and analytics firm CoreLogic, there were roughly 54,000 completed foreclosures in February. That's down nearly 20 percent from February 2012, when there were 67,000.

Mark Fleming, CoreLogic's chief economist, noted that this set a milestone for the real estate industry, which is gaining traction slowly but surely.

"February's 54,000 completed foreclosures is the lowest level nationally since September 2007, with most major metropolitan areas experiencing improvements," said Fleming.

He added that states like Florida, which has historically seen a high number of foreclosed properties, have seen remarkable improvements.

That being said, the Sunshine State still saw more foreclosures for the 12 months ending in February. Approximately 95,000 were completed in the period, CoreLogic notes, more than any other part of the country. California, Michigan, Texas and Georgia also witnessed a higher foreclosure rate.

These properties provide aspiring homeowners to purchase a property relatively inexpensively. However, buyers should still go through the standard procedures that comes with purchasing a residence, such as getting a home inspection done. A thorough inspection will provide buyers with the information that they may want to know before a housing transaction is closed.