About two in every 1,000 homeowners faced foreclosure in the first three months of this year, according to a report released Monday by Foreclosures.com, a company that offers foreclosure information and resources.

A total of 253,803 preforeclosures and notices of pending foreclosure auctions were filed in the first quarter, a 22.5 percent increase compared with 207,128 filings in fourth-quarter 2006, the company reported.

Statistics don’t include “tens of thousands” of properties that were actually lost to foreclosure in the first quarter, according to the report. The quarterly data is based on Foreclosures.com coverage of 1,349 U.S. counties — there are 3,141 total counties and county equivalents in the country.

A slowing real estate market and the collapse of the subprime lending market have contributed to growth in foreclosure filings, and several other data providers have also noted this trend.

RealtyTrac, another foreclosure information provider, reported that monthly foreclosure filings, including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions, totaled 130,786 in February, which was down 4 percent compared to January but up 12 percent compared to February 2006.

The Mortgage Bankers Association trade group reported in March that the seasonally adjusted delinquency rate for residential properties with one to four units was 4.95 percent in the fourth quarter, which was up 28 basis points from the third quarter and up 25 basis points compared to fourth-quarter 2005.

Foreclosures.com reported that auction filings alone were up about 50 percent in the first quarter compared to fourth-quarter 2006 and rose about 117 percent compared with the 47,521 auction filings that the company reported in first-quarter 2006.

Preforeclosure filings rose about 103 percent in the first quarter compared to first-quarter 2006, to 168,837.

“The numbers cast a dark cloud over the American Dream of home ownership,” said Alexis McGee, president of Foreclosures.com, in a statement. “Unfortunately for those overextended homeowners it’s a cloud that isn’t likely to lift any time soon either, especially in light of the recent troubles in the subprime lending market.”

Total March foreclosure filings in all three categories — preforeclosures, auctions, REOs — increased in March compared to February — up 39 percent for preforeclosure properties, 52 percent for auction filings and 50 percent for REOs.

California has led the nation in preforeclosure filings, with 49,016 so far this year — up 139 percent since last year. Auction filings in California were up 277 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2006.

Texas had the most REO properties with 14,101 so far this year, up from 11,226 during the same period last year, according to the report. And on a per-capita basis, Ohio led the nation in REO filings with 2.5 per 1,000 households year-to-date, and Tennessee was second with 2.2 REOs per 1,000 households.

Colorado led the nation in the rate of preforeclosure filings year-to-date, with 5.9 filings per 1,000 households. Florida was second with 5.8 foreclosures per 1,000 households.

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