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Market improves further as foreclosures drop in January


Foreclosures fell to start the year.

The level of foreclosures dropped across the country in January compared to the same month in 2012, which may show that the economy is improving, and homeowners are tackling mortgage payments.

Total completed foreclosures fell to 61,000 in February, which was nearly 18 percent lower than one year earlier, according to a report from CoreLogic. Last January's completed foreclosure figure was approximately 75,000. Despite this drop, the figure rose 10 percent compared to December, when the level was 56,000.

"The backlog of distressed assets continues to fade as the foreclosure inventory has fallen to a level not seen since mid-2009, with less than 3 percent of all mortgages in foreclosure," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

Close to 1.2 million properties were in the foreclosure pipeline during January, which was notably lower than one year earlier, when it was 1.5 million, the report added. This was a drop of more than 20 percent.

Relatively steady mortgage rates may play some part in this situation, as the figures have not been significantly changed in the past several weeks, but are still low. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.51 percent during the week ending February 28, according to Freddie Mac. This was slightly lower than the previous week's figure of 3.56 percent.

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