National property foreclosure activity was up 55 percent in the first half of 2007 over last year, according to new data released today, as many housing markets across the country continue to see slowing sales and stagnant price growth.

A total of 925,986 foreclosure filings — which includes default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 573,397 properties nationwide during the first six months of the year, according to a midyear report released today from foreclosure tracking service RealtyTrac. The findings show increases of more than 30 percent from the previous six-month period.

The report also shows a foreclosure rate of one foreclosure filing for every 134 U.S. households for the first half of the year.

“Despite a slight drop in June, foreclosure activity shows no sign of slowing down,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “Based on the rate of foreclosure activity in the first half of 2007, we could easily surpass 2 million foreclosure filings by the end of the year, which would represent a year-over-year increase of over 65 percent.”

Nevada posted the nation’s highest foreclosure rate, with one foreclosure filing for every 40 households during the first half of 2007, according to RealtyTrac. The state reported a total of 25,208 foreclosure filings on 14,687 properties, more than double the number of foreclosure filings reported in the previous six-month period and nearly triple the number reported in the first half of 2006.

Colorado reported one foreclosure filing for every 60 households during the first half of 2007, the nation’s second-highest state foreclosure rate. The state reported a total of 34,287 foreclosure filings on 19,411 properties, a 15 percent increase from the previous six-month period and a 38 percent increase from the first six months of 2006.

With one foreclosure filing for every 69 households during the first half of 2007, California registered the nation’s third-highest state foreclosure rate. The state reported a total of 189,560 foreclosure filings on 104,572 properties, up 122 percent from the previous six-month period and up 232 percent from the first half of 2006.

Other states with foreclosure rates among the top 10 included Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Connecticut and Indiana.

California’s foreclosure filing total and unique property count were both highest among all the states in the first half of 2007. Florida reported the second-highest totals, with 102,213 foreclosure filings on 64,250 properties. Florida’s foreclosure rate — one foreclosure filing for every 81 households — ranked fifth highest among all the states.

Texas reported 69,471 foreclosure filings in the first half of 2007 — the nation’s third-highest foreclosure filing total. But the state’s unique property count of 41,592 came in fourth place behind Ohio’s 44,594, RealtyTrac said. Ohio reported 60,728 total foreclosure filings, the fourth most of any state. Other states with foreclosure filing totals among the nation’s 10 highest were Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado, New Jersey and Arizona.

Addressing concerns over the way RealtyTrac counts foreclosure filings, the company added the new “unique property” count, which presents the number of unique property addresses with some type of foreclosure action filed against them during the six-month period. RealtyTrac said the new metric counts a property only once, even if there were multiple foreclosure filings against the property during the report period.

The tracking service said it will issue this count four times a year, including a mid-year and annual report. (See related Inman News story.)

“The addition of this metric to our foreclosure report was spurred by a data request for unique property addresses from the Federal Reserve Bank, which is using our data for market and risk analysis, and we believe it will serve as a valuable complement to the total foreclosure filing count that we have been including all along,” said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac’s vice president of marketing.

“It’s interesting to note that the total foreclosure filings and unique property counts reveal almost identical trends on the national level: foreclosure filings are up 39 percent from the previous six months and 56 percent from the first half of 2006; unique property counts are up 32 percent from the previous six months and up 58 percent from the first half of 2006,” he said.

The company notes the consistency is similar at the state level, where the same five states have the highest numbers of households in foreclosure and foreclosure filings, and the same six states have the highest percentages of both foreclosure filings per household and percentage of households in the foreclosure process.

“The bottom line,” Sharga noted, “is that no matter how you count — by individual households or by the total number of foreclosure filings — foreclosure activity is up significantly in 2007. We hope that by providing both the total amount of foreclosure activity and the number of households involved, we’re providing information that legislators, regulators, lenders, home buyers and sellers can use to make intelligent and informed decisions.”

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