NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Mortgage foreclosures are at a six-year low, according to data from Back Night (formerly Lending Processing Services), and that is helping boost the vast majority of local housing markets to their best showing since 2010.
Separate data from Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac says 96% of 410 U.S. counties are "better off than they were four years ago," when foreclosures were at historic highs. (The 410 counties in the survey represent about 63% of the U.S. population.)
There is still a downside, and a fairly substantial one: RealtyTrac reports that just 8% of county markets are "better off" than in 2006, just before the housing sector went bust in a big way.
Apparently, the housing market is in the second year of an upward trend after six years of downside price activity. RealtyTrac says the real estate market hit bottom in 2012 in terms of median residential home prices, and 80% of homeowners are better off than they were in 2012, the firm says.
To calculate its figures, RealtyTrac examined four key criteria: home pricing appreciation, home affordability, the number of bank-owned home sales and the jobless rate.
"The housing recovery has taken root in hundreds of counties across the country and almost all local housing markets are better off than they were four years ago when foreclosure activity peaked in 2010, with more than 1 million homes lost to foreclosure in that year alone," says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "We saw less than half that number of bank repossessions nationwide in 2013. Even in hard-hit markets like Stockton, Las Vegas and Lansing, Mich., where [real estate-owned] sales represented more than half of all sales in 2010, the percentage of REO sales has been cut at least in half."