Foreclosure starts edged higher in March for Benton, Washington and Crawford counties, while Sebastian County filings dipped from the year-ago period, according to RealtyTrac.com.
The report found that 187 homes were more than 90-days delinquent on mortgages last month in the two Northwest Arkansas counties. Foreclosure filings rose 50% from the March 2012 report. Benton County posted the largest increase with 132 filings, up from 73 a year earlier. In Washington County there were 56 filings, compared to 51 a year ago.
“Although the overall national foreclosure trend continues to head lower, late-blooming foreclosures are bolting higher in some local markets where aggressive foreclosure prevention efforts in previous years are wearing off,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.
Arkansas fits that description as foreclosures were banned by out-of-state lenders for several months during 2011 and early 2012 over pending litigation which was resolved last spring.
South of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel, foreclosure starts jumped 140% in Crawford County last month. RealtyTrac reports 24 filings, 22 of those being midway through the process as notices of trustee sale were sent to the mortgagees.
Sebastian County bucked the trend, posting 27 new filings, with 26 of those being notices of trustee sale. Total filings were down 3.57% in March, when compared to the year-ago period.
Jim Long, a real estate agent with Crye-Leike Realty, said there were 222 properties listed as bank-owned foreclosures as of April 9. The MLS includes all four counties noted in this report. Foreclosure listings declined from 257 in January, and 260 in December, according to Long.
He said the number of new foreclosure listings are still trickling back into the inventory at a very slow rate. Agents attribute this slow release to banks being cautious about over saturating the market now that prices have started to rebound.
Properties across the state where foreclosures were completed in the first quarter had spent 310 days in the pipeline. The average time increased 42%, up from 218 days during the prior quarter.
RealtyTrac says the time banks took to foreclose increased from the previous quarter in 39 states, led by Oregon up 61% and Arkansas up 42%. Both are non-judicial states, meaning it does not require a judge’s signature to process with foreclosure.
Across the Natural State there were 856 new foreclosure filings last month, up 105% from the prior year.
On the national scene, foreclosure starts dipped 23% in March, with 152,500 new filings recorded.