Fewer foreclosures were initiated in Maryland last month than in any month so far this year, even as the number of completed foreclosures climbed, according to a monthly report published Thursday.
The figures could suggest that the state's backlog of foreclosure suits -- typically cited as the reason for Maryland's persistently high foreclosure rate -- has started to be cleared from the system.
Maryland has experienced 22 months of year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity as measured by foreclosure filings, contributing to a foreclosure rate that was the second highest in the nation last month for the third month in a row, according to an analysis by real estate information firm RealtyTrac.
Nationwide, one in every 1,137 housing units was touched by a foreclosure filing in April. In Maryland, the rate was one in every 624 units, up 4.5 percent compared to last year and topped only by Florida, where one in every 400 units had a filing, the report found.
But there are signs the situation could be improving. While foreclosure starts in Maryland increased 4.4 percent in April compared to 2013, that is the smallest year-over-year gain so far this year. The total number of starts, 1,638, was the lowest figure of 2014, according to RealtyTrac data.
Meanwhile about 911 foreclosures were completed, up 45 percent since last year and almost 30 percent from last month, the report found.
The number of foreclosures remains elevated. Research firm CoreLogic reported that 48,000 foreclosures were completed in the U.S. in March, compared to a monthly average of 21,000 between 2000 and 2006.