National real estate foreclosures increased in every quarter of 2005, according to an industry report released today.

RealtyTrac, which provides an online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released year-end data showing that 846,982 properties nationwide entered some stage of foreclosure in 2005, and there was a 25 percent increase in the number of new foreclosures from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.

“Overall, U.S. foreclosure numbers climbed steadily over the course of the year, with more new foreclosures reported in every quarter,” said James J. Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac. “This trend appears to be moving the real estate foreclosure market back to its historic levels.”

Saccacio noted that the number of 2005 foreclosures needed to be kept in context. “Even with almost 850,000 properties entering some stage of foreclosure across the country over the course of the year, this represents less than 1 percent of all U.S. households. And the increase in U.S. foreclosures from Q3 to Q4 was just below 5 percent.”

Report highlights included:

  • Despite a 29 percent decrease in new foreclosures from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, Florida documented the nation’s highest foreclosure rate and accounted for more than 14 percent of the nation’s new foreclosures in 2005. The state reported 121,843 properties entering some stage of foreclosure — 1.67 percent of the state’s households.

  • New foreclosures in Colorado decreased 4 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, but the state’s annual foreclosure rate ranked second highest nationwide thanks to consistently high foreclosure numbers throughout the year. A total of 29,630 Colorado properties entered some stage of foreclosure in 2005 — 1.62 percent of the state’s households.

  • 1.5 percent of Utah households entered some stage of foreclosure in 2005, the nation’s third-highest annual foreclosure rate. The state reported 11,536 properties entering some stage of foreclosure during the year, but new foreclosures dropped 27 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.

  • New foreclosures in Texas increased 54 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, and the state documented the nation’s fourth highest annual foreclosure rate. A total of 115,643 Texas properties entered some stage of foreclosure in 2005 — 1.44 percent of the state’s households and more than 13 percent of the nation’s new foreclosures in 2005.

  • Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the 10 highest nationwide were Georgia, Arizona, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee. All of these state documented annual foreclosure rates of at least 1 percent of total households and reported new foreclosures increasing from the first quarter to the fourth quarter

  • Although their foreclosure rates ranked below the nation’s 10 highest, California, Illinois, New York and Michigan were among the 10 states reporting the most new foreclosures in 2005. California reported 61,563 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, and new foreclosures increased 16 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. Illinois reported 46,723 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, and new foreclosures decreased 14 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. New York reported 37,068 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, and the state reported more than twice as many new foreclosures in the fourth quarter as in the first quarter.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen historically low mortgage rates, consistently escalating home prices and steady, strong employment,” Saccacio said. “This has translated into relatively low levels of foreclosure properties — particularly bank-owned properties. With interest rates rising and an apparent slowing of property valuations in most markets, we’ll be watching closely to see if there’s a material effect on the number of foreclosures in 2006.”

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

The RealtyTrac 2005 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report provides the total number of homes entering some stage of foreclosure nationwide and by state for each quarter of 2005. The report includes properties in all three phases of foreclosure: pre-foreclosures – notice of default (NOD) and lis pendens (LIS); foreclosures – notice of trustee sale and notice of foreclosure sale (NTS and NFS); and real estate owned, or REO properties (that have been re-purchased by a bank).

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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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