National real estate foreclosures decreased 9.2 percent in September from the previous month, continuing a two-month decline, according to a report released today by RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosures.

A total of 68,646 properties nationwide entered some stage of foreclosure in September, the report shows.

“Foreclosures in September dropped for the second month in a row, at least in part due to issues related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio. “Trends in the real estate market in general – and foreclosure properties in particular – will be interesting to watch over the next few months as new economic forces such as increasing interest rates and the recently-passed bankruptcy laws come into play.”

Despite the lower foreclosure rates nationally, a number of states showed increased numbers of foreclosures. Colorado reported 3,602 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, a 50 percent increase from August and one foreclosure for every 508 households – the highest foreclosure rate of any state and more than three times the national average.

Foreclosure rates in Georgia and Ohio were more than twice the national average thanks to foreclosures increasing more than 20 percent in both states. With 3,923 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, Georgia foreclosures occurred at one in every 789 households. With 5,799 foreclosures, the Ohio foreclosure rate was one in every 825 households. 

California documented 4,994 properties entering some stage of foreclosure in September, a 3.8 percent increase. But with one foreclosure for every 2,446 households, the California foreclosure rate was still well below the national average.

Although it documented the most foreclosures of any state for the second month in a row, the number of Texas foreclosures dropped 28 percent in September. The state reported a total of 9,736 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, one for every 827 households – still more than twice the national average and the fifth highest foreclosure rate of any state.

The Florida foreclosure rate of one in every 796 households, registered as the nation’s third-highest foreclosure rate despite a 9.8 percent decrease in the number of foreclosures. The state documented 9,183 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, the second most of any state.

The Gulf Coast states impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita continued to report lower than normal foreclosures in September. After dropping significantly in August, when Hurricane Katrina hit, the number of foreclosures in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama rebounded somewhat in September. But the three states still documented fewer than half as many properties entering some stage of foreclosure as they did in July.

Some of the drop in Gulf Coast foreclosures can be attributed to actions taken by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has called for a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures in federal disaster areas for properties that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration. HUD also has suspended its home sales program for close to 6,000 foreclosed properties in 11 states in and around the Gulf Coast: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Instead of being sold on the market, those properties will be used for up to 18 months as temporary rent-free housing for people displaced by the hurricanes.

RealtyTrac publishes a large national database of pre-foreclosure and foreclosure properties, with more than 550,000 properties in over 2,000 counties across the country.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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