The number of new foreclosed residential properties available for sale nationwide increased 9 percent from February 2005 to February 2006, according to data released today by Foreclosure.com, while the total number of foreclosed properties available for sale dropped 7 percent from January 2006 to February 2006.

February marks the second consecutive month of declining new foreclosures in the United States, Foreclosure.com reported.

About 88,093 foreclosed residential properties were available for sale in the United States in February. There were 21,402 new foreclosures listed for sale in February, a 10.8 percent drop from the prior month.

“Foreclosure inventory numbers in February are often low, partially because legal filings in December usually drop off around the holidays and reduce foreclosures in January and February,” said Brad Geisen, president and CEO of Foreclosure.com, in a statement.

“The year-to-year comparison, however, tells a different story. If new foreclosures in 2006 continue to track 9 percent higher than in 2005, the country will reach higher inventory levels than it has in recent years.”

While most areas of the country experienced a decrease in new and active foreclosure listings in February, inventory increased in parts of the West. In California, which has historically had few foreclosures, there was a 150 percent increase in the number of new foreclosure listings in February compared to January.

In Arizona, foreclosure listings increased 161 percent from January to February, and listings increased 99 percent in Nevada during that period.

Texas had 11,856 total foreclosure properties in February, Ohio had 7,694, Michigan had 7,494, Colorado had 6,753 and Georgia had 5,963. Texas also topped the list for new foreclosures in February at 2,795, followed by Ohio with 1,803, Michigan with 1,781, Georgia with 1,610 and Indiana with 1,437.

Wayne County, Mich., and Dallas County, Texas, continue to top the country in county-level foreclosures, though both experienced a reduction in new foreclosures in February.

Marion County, Ind., rose from the seventh to the third highest county in the nation for new foreclosures in February with 411 listings. Other counties with significant increases in foreclosures in February include: Maricopa County, Ariz.; San Diego County, Calif.; Los Angeles County, Calif.; Hennepin County, Minn.; Clark County, Nev.; and Salt Lake County, Utah.

“Foreclosure rates in the western half of the nation are shifting. Texas, which continues to have the highest number of foreclosures in the United States, has recently been showing a decrease in its foreclosure numbers. But states such as California and Nevada have experienced a rapid increase in foreclosure inventory over the past six months,” said Geisen. “This is primarily because of a decrease in investment and speculative real estate activity in those markets. That investment activity has been moving away from California and into Texas, where the housing market has not yet peaked.”

Foreclosure.com data includes foreclosed properties in the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Foreclosed properties have been through the foreclosure process, were not sold at public auction and have been taken back by a lending institution. These properties are commonly referred to as real estate-owned (REO) properties.

Foreclosure.com has a database of about 1.2 million foreclosure, pre-foreclosure, bankruptcy, for-sale-by-owner and tax lien listings.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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