Foreclosures in December dropped 9 percent since November but were up 35 percent compared to December 2005, according to a report by RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties.

There was a national foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure filing for every 1,055 U.S. households in December, according to the U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, and 109,652 properties entered a stage of foreclosure that month.

The report provides the total number of homes entering some stage of foreclosure nationwide and by state over the past month. The company also collects data at the county level. The report includes properties in all three phases of foreclosure: notice of default and lis pendens; notice of trustee sale and notice of foreclosure sale; and real estate-owned, or REO properties that have been foreclosed on and repurchased by a bank.

“New foreclosure filings surpassed the 100,000 level for the fifth straight month, something we’ve not seen since we began issuing our foreclosure market report in January 2005,” said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO, in a statement.

“While the number of new foreclosure filings dropped back from the high point of 2006 in November, the combination of slower home sales and rising interest rates on adjustable mortgages continues to drive foreclosures at significantly higher numbers than a year ago.”

Colorado posted the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate in December — one new foreclosure filing for every 376 households — though foreclosure activity in the state dropped 4 percent since November. Colorado registered the highest monthly foreclosure rate for nine months in 2006.

Nevada’s foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure filing for every 392 households dropped to second highest in the nation in December — that state had a 12 percent decrease in foreclosure activity compared to November.

Georgia, which also reported a decrease in foreclosure activity, ranked third highest in the nation for the third month in a row, with one new foreclosure filing for every 480 households, RealtyTrac reported.

Texas recorded 14,195 properties entering a stage of foreclosure in December — it was the most new foreclosure filings of any state that month, and was an increase of 4 percent compared to the previous month with one new foreclosure filing for every 567 households. This rate was 1.9 times the national average. Texas reported the most new foreclosure filings for any state in 8 months of 2006.

California, which had recorded the most foreclosure activity in September through November, fell to second place in December, with 12,623 properties entering a stage of foreclosure. That activity dropped 34 percent compared to November but was 65 percent higher than the December 2005 level.

In Florida 8,321 properties entered a stage of foreclosure in December, which is the third-highest level among states and 11 percent below November level. Florida’s foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure filing for every 878 households, while not among the 10 highest in the country, was above the national average.

Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Colorado, Massachusetts and New York reported state foreclosure totals among the nation’s 10 highest.

For the fifth month in a row, the Greeley, Colo., metro area posted the highest foreclosure rate among the nation’s 200-plus largest metropolitan areas, RealtyTrac reported, with 391 properties entering some stage of foreclosure. That marks a decline of 9 percent since November and a foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure filing for every 169 households — or about six times the national average.

Fort Worth, Texas, recorded the nation’s second-highest metro foreclosure rate in November, with one new foreclosure filing for every 242 households — about four times the national average. The metro area reported 2,862 properties entering some stage of foreclosure during the month, up nearly 48 percent from the previous month, according to RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure activity decreased less than 1 percent in the Detroit metro area, and the city’s foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure filing for every 250 households ranked as the third-highest metropolitan foreclosure rate in the nation.

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