The number of properties entering the foreclosure process in March were down 13 percent from February, but were up 63 percent from the same period a year ago, according to an industry report today.

A total of 101,587 properties entered some stage of foreclosure in March, according to RealtyTrac’s March foreclosure market report. The report shows a March national foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure for every 1,138 U.S. households.

“After rising more than 20 percent during each of the first two months of the year, foreclosure numbers experienced a fairly sharp correction in March,” said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO. “We saw a similar drop in March of ’05, followed by four consecutive months of increases. Many buyers and investors typically start looking for properties in the spring, and that could have provided distressed homeowners a better chance of selling their properties to avoid default or foreclosure.”

Colorado’s foreclosure rate leapfrogged to highest among the states thanks to a 31 percent increase in new foreclosures from the previous month. The state reported 5,392 properties entering some stage of foreclosure in March, a foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure for every 339 households — more than three times the national average, according to RealtyTrac.

After spending the two previous months as highest in the nation, Georgia’s foreclosure rate dropped to second highest behind Colorado thanks in part to new foreclosures decreasing 19 percent from the previous month. The state reported a total of 7,656 properties entering some stage of foreclosure in March, a foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure for every 404 households and a 77 percent year-over-year increase.

With a total of 4,933 properties entering some stage of foreclosure in March, Indiana’s foreclosure rate — one new foreclosure for every 512 households — ranked among the nation’s five highest for the third month in a row despite a 17 percent decrease from the previous month.

Utah foreclosures increased 21 percent from the previous month and replaced Ohio, where new foreclosures dropped 52 percent, among the states with the five highest foreclosure rates. Utah reported a total of 1,437 properties entering some stage of foreclosure in March, a foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure for every 535 households and a 32 percent year-over-year increase, RealtyTrac said.

Michigan’s foreclosure rate dropped from second to fifth place among the top state foreclosure rates thanks to a 25 percent decrease in new foreclosures from the previous month. The state reported 7,727 properties entering some stage of foreclosure in March, a foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure for every 547 households and more than three times the number reported in March 2005.

Meanwhile, Texas documented the most new foreclosures of any state for the fourth month in a row even though foreclosures there decreased for the second consecutive month. The state reported a total of 11,951 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, a foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure for every 674 households — 1.7 times the national average.

California reported 11,073 properties entering some stage of foreclosure in March, the second most of any state, and the state’s foreclosure rate registered slightly above the national average thanks to a 22 percent increase from the previous month.

Florida foreclosures decreased 7 percent from the previous month and 12 percent from March 2005, but the state still reported 9,283 properties entering some stage of foreclosure in March — the third most of any state and a foreclosure rate 1.5 times the national average.

RealtyTrac publishes a national database of pre-foreclosure and foreclosure properties, with more than 600,000 properties from more than 2,500 counties across the country.

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