By Kenneth R. Gosselin, The Hartford Courant, click here to view online
Home foreclosure activity in Connecticut rose again in March, but there were more signs that the state's foreclosure troubles are beginning to moderate, a report released Thursday shows.
One component of overall foreclosure activity — first-time notices — fell 16 percent in March, the first year-over-year decrease after a string of 13 months of increases, according to the monthly report from RealtyTrac, which monitors foreclosure filings nationally and by state. RealtyTrac also markets foreclosed properties.
First-time notices totaled 1,022 in March, down from 1,221 a year ago, the report showed.
"This could signify a turning point for the recent rebound in foreclosure activity in Connecticut, indicating that lenders and the court system are beginning to catch up with the backlog of delayed foreclosures in the state," Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said.
He added, "The latter two stages of foreclosure activity — scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions — continued to trend higher in March, but the decrease on the front end of the foreclosure process is a good sign."
Foreclosure auction notices rose 75 percent, to 156, and bank repossessions rose 65 percent, to 717.
Residential properties in some stage of foreclosure rose nearly 9 percent in March, to 1,895, from 1,742 for the same month a year ago. While an increase was still registered in March, it was in the single-digits, far below the 40 percent, year-over-year increase in the previous month.
The nation as a whole saw overall foreclosure activity decline by nearly 23 percent.
Experts say recovery in Connecticut was slowed by the robo-signing scandal in 2010. The scandal involved major mortgage lenders and servicers signing off on foreclosure documents without verifying their accuracy. The controversy touched off far-reaching federal investigations that led to paperwork reforms and hefty monetary settlements — and also delayed lenders pursuing foreclosures.
That, some experts have said, led to the spike in activity in Connecticut and a backlog in the state's courts. Not all states process foreclosures in the courts, so the fall-out varied from state to state.
In March, one in every 784 residential properties in Connecticut had a foreclosure filing, compared with one in 854 for the same month a year ago. Connecticut ranked the seventh highest among all states in this measure, compared with sixth highest in February and 13th highest in March, 2013.