Foreclosure rates are falling. According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, monthly foreclosure filings fell 2 percent in May to just under 215,000 filings nationwide. A foreclosure filing is defined as any one of the following: a default notice, a scheduled auction, or a bank repossession. On an annual basis, foreclosure counts have dropped over 16 consecutive months, dating back to January 2010. Like all things in real estate, though, foreclosures are local. 6 states accounted for more than half of the country's foreclosure filings in May. Those six states -- California, Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas -- represent just 34% of the U.S. population. But even on a per household basis, the figures remain disproportionate.
The nationwide foreclosure rate was 1 foreclosure per 605 households. As a home buyer in Washington, DC , foreclosures matter. Distressed homes account for close to 40% of home resales and that's because distressed properties often sell at steep discounts; in some markets, up to 20 percent less than a comparable, non-distressed home. Foreclosed homes can be a great "deal", therefore, but only if you've done your homework. Buying a bank-repossessed home is different from buying from "people". The contracts and negotiation process are different, and homes are sometimes sold with defects. If you plan to purchase a VA foreclosure, therefore, speak with a real estate professional first. With foreclosures, there's a lot you can learn online, but when it comes time to submit an actual bid, you'll want an experienced agent on your side.