Foreclosure filings in the U.S. have remained below pre-recession levels for the past 18 months.

Properties with foreclosure proceedings started was up 4 percent last quarter but down 19 percent from a year ago, according to a Thursday news release from Attom Data Solutions, a national property database.

There were 74,341 properties with foreclosure filings in March, data from Attom’s 1Q U.S. Foreclosure Report shows. That’s up 21 percent from an all-time low in February but still down 11 percent from a year ago.

It’s also the 30th month straight the U.S. foreclosure activity experienced a year-over-year decline.

A survey of foreclosure activity revealed 45 percent of properties in foreclosure at the end of the first quarter were from loans started between 2004 and 2008.

“Less than half of all active foreclosures are now tied to loans originated during the last housing bubble, one of several data milestones in this report showing that the U.S. housing market has mostly cleared out the backlog of bad loans that triggered the housing and financial crisis nearly a decade ago,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Meanwhile we are beginning to see early signs that some post-recession loan vintages are defaulting at a slightly elevated rate, a sign that some loosening of lending standards has occurred in recent years.

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“Consequently, foreclosure starts are trending higher compared to a year ago in an increasing number of local markets — some of which are a bit surprising given the overall strength of housing in those markets.”

Colorado is among 22 states that posted first quarter foreclosure activity totals below pre-recession averages, according to Attom’s release.

Local foreclosure filings reached levels not seen since the early 2000s in February, said Tom Lazzaro, a broker associate at Sellstate Alliance.

The El Paso County Public Trustee’s Office reported a 37 percent drop in foreclosure filings in February compared to February last year.

“Everybody is always boasting about foreclosures and defaults being down, but the truth is they normally hit their lowest point right before they crash,” Lazzaro said. “I hate to be the guy of doom and gloom, but that is the cycle of our U.S. housing market.”

Lazzaro worries the decreasing amount of foreclosure filings might foreshadow the housing market’s next downfall.

Read about why Lazzaro believes the low foreclosure listings may signal another housing market crash in the April 13 edition of the Business Journal.