Lenders took possession of fewer U.S. homes in 2012 than a year earlier, as the pace of new homes entering the path to foreclosure slowed and banks increasingly opted to allow troubled borrowers to sell their homes for less than what they owed on their mortgage.
All told, banks repossessed 671,251 homes last year, down nearly 17 percent from 804,423 the year before, according to data released Thursday by foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. The trend suggests that the country’s foreclosure woes are easing, at least on a national level. Foreclosure activity, defined as the number of homes that received at least one foreclosure-related filing, declined 3 percent last year. That translates to 1.8 million U.S. homes.