LAS VEGAS -- After 62 consecutive months of posting the nation's highest foreclosure rate Nevada slipped to number two in March behind Arizona but only by an eyelash, the website RealtyTrac.com reported Wednesday night.
Nevada is not out of the woods, though, because it still had the nation's highest foreclosure rate for the first quarter of 2012.
The state's foreclosure activity, which RealtyTrac measures by the volume of foreclosure filings, dropped 26.2 percent from the fourth quarter of last year and was down 61.5 percent from the first quarter of 2011. Much of the decline has been attributed to a state law effective last fall that makes it more difficult for mortgage lenders to initiate foreclosures. Nevada is known as a non-judicial foreclosure state because one doesn't need to obtain court approval to initiate a foreclosure.
Still, Nevada led the nation with one foreclosure filing for every 95 housing units in the first quarter of this year, compared to a national rate of one filing per 230 residences.
In March, though, Arizona had one filing per 300 housing units, barely more than the one per 301 in Nevada. The national rate in March was one filing per 662 housing units. There were 3,899 Nevada homes that received foreclosure filings that month, including 1,163 notices of default, 1,228 notices of trustee sales, and 1,508 notices of foreclosure sales.
There were 198,853 foreclosure filings nationally in March, the lowest monthly total since July 2007.
"The low foreclosure numbers in the first quarter are not an indication that the massive reservoir of distressed properties built up over the past few years has somehow miraculously evaporated," RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore said. "There are hairline cracks in the dam, evident in the sizable foreclosure activity increases in judicial foreclosure states over the past several months, along with an increase in foreclosure starts in many judicial and non-judicial states in March.
"The dam may not burst in the next 30 to 45 days, but it will eventually burst, and everyone downstream should be prepared for that to happen, both in terms of new foreclosure activity and new short sale activity."