The Irvine-based tracking firm said the number of housing units in jeopardy of foreclosure, or which have been repossessed by lenders but not yet listed for sale, dropped from 2.6 million in July 2011 to 2.3 million in July 2012.
"Broadly speaking, the shadow inventory continued to shrink in July," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "This is yet another hopeful sign that the housing market is slowly healing."
homeowners who are worried that the value of their homes could be further depressed by a wave of foreclosure sales.
The real estate market has generally been on a path toward recovery this year, with home prices pressed upward by the low inventory of homes on the market and record-low 30-year mortgage rates, which have fallen below 4 percent.
Experts have pointed to the shadow inventory as a potential threat to the fledgling upturn. Large numbers of foreclosed homes hitting the market could drive prices down.
So far, however, the next big wave of foreclosure sales has yet to materialize here.
Pat Shea, president of Lyon Real Estate, said Tuesday that he thinks the threat posed by the shadow inventory has been overstated.
"I really don't think in the Sacramento region there's a big shadow inventory," Shea said.
Reliable local data on shadow inventory are hard to come by, he said, but investors are quickly buying foreclosed homes even as the banks allow a greater number of short sales.
The improving economy and alternatives to foreclosure, including short sales and loan modifications, have helped prevent homes from becoming part of the shadow inventory.
"I don't think we'll see a big increase" in the percentage of foreclosures on the market, he said.
CoreLogic said Tuesday that the amount of houses flowing into the foreclosure pipeline is roughly equal to the number of homes being sold as foreclosures or short sales, in which a lender takes less than what's owed.
The firm calculates the shadow inventory by adding the number of homes that are in foreclosure and those that are bank-owned but not yet for sale. Homes where owners are 90 days or more past due on their payments also are included.
Forty-five percent of all distressed properties are in five states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York and New Jersey, CoreLogic reported
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