Foreclosure filings jumped 90 percent in May compared to the same month last year, reported RealtyTrac, a company that maintains a national database of pre-foreclosure and foreclosure properties.

The company’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for May shows 176,137 foreclosure filings, including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — a rate of one foreclosure for every 656 households. The number of foreclosure filings rose 19 percent compared to April 2007.

RealtyTrac’s previous monthly report for April found that foreclosure activity for that month was up 62 percent compared to April 2006.

Nevada’s foreclosure rate of one foreclosure for every 166 households in May was the nation’s highest for the fifth month in a row, RealtyTrac reported, and about four times the national average. RealtyTrac reported 5,235 foreclosure filings in May, a 40 percent increase compared to June and about five times higher than the May 2006 total.

“Foreclosure activity roared back with a vengeance in May,” said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO, in a statement. “Such strong activity in the midst of the typical spring buying season could foreshadow even higher foreclosure levels later in the year. Certainly not every community nationwide is seeing an increase in foreclosures, but foreclosed properties are becoming more commonplace and adding to the downward pressure on home prices in many areas.”

RealtyTrac’s data has its critics, as some claim that the statistics inflate the total number of foreclosure filings. The Colorado state Division of Housing, for example, conducted a review concluding that RealtyTrac, among other foreclosure data providers, may exaggerate foreclosure data by counting some properties multiple times.

Colorado’s foreclosure rate, at one filing for every 290 households, was the second highest in the nation and about 2.3 times the national average, RealtyTrac reported. RealtyTrac counted 6,321 foreclosure filings in May, up 9 percent from April and up 50 percent compared to May 2006.

California’s foreclosure rate was the third highest in the country, with one foreclosure filing for every 308 households — about twice the national average. Foreclosure activity in the state rose 30 percent compared to April and 350 percent compared to May 2006, according to RealtyTrac data.

Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Indiana and Connecticut also had foreclosure rates that ranked among the highest in the country.

California, with 39,659 foreclosure filings in May, had the highest total in the country for the fifth month in a row, RealtyTrac reported. Florida was second on the list with 21,704 filings in May. Florida’s foreclosure rate of one foreclosure filing for every 336 households was the fourth highest among all states.

Ohio had the third-highest state total with 13,214 foreclosure filings reported in May, followed by Texas, Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.

The cities with the nation’s top three metropolitan foreclosure rates were located in California, and three other California cities also had foreclosure rates among the top 10, according to RealtyTrac.

Stockton, Calif., had the highest foreclosure rate of one in every 88 households, which is about 7.5 times the national average. Merced, Calif., was next on the list with a rate of one foreclosure filing for every 100 households, followed by Modesto, Calif., with one foreclosure filing for every 118 households.

Next on the list was Las Vegas; followed by Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.; Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.; Sacramento, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Detroit, Mich.; and Miami, Fla.

The RealtyTrac report includes documents filed 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.

RealtyTrac is the foreclosure data provider to MSN Real Estate, Yahoo! Real Estate and The Wall Street Journal‘s Real Estate Journal. The company maintains a blog at http://www.foreclosurepulse.com/.

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