Foreclosure filings nearly doubled in the past year but declined 8.4 percent in September compared to August, according to data company RealtyTrac.

The company reported 223,538 foreclosure filings — including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — in September, which represents a national rate of one foreclosure filing for every 557 households.

RealtyTrac last month reported 243,947 foreclosure filings in August, which was a record since the company began the monthly foreclosure reports in 2005 — the September total was the second-highest on record. In August, the number of foreclosure filings was up 115 percent compared to August 2006.

RealtyTrac, which supplies foreclosure data to MSN Real Estate, Yahoo Real Estate and the Wall Street Journal’s Real Estate Journal, reported that Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for the ninth month in a row.

Nevada had 5,504 foreclosure filings in September, for a rate of one foreclosure filing for every 185 households. Foreclosure filings in that state were down about 11.2 percent compared to August but up about 186.9 percent compared to September 2006.

Next on the list was Florida, which had a rate of one foreclosure filing for every 248 properties in September. Foreclosure filings in Florida fell 1.7 percent compared to August but rose 157.6 percent compared to September 2006.

California had the third-highest foreclosure rate in September, with one foreclosure filing for every 253 households. Foreclosures dropped 11.4 percent compared to August but soared 246.2 percent compared to September 2006.

Washington, D.C., had the sharpest monthly decline in foreclosure filings, which fell 82.2 percent from August to September, though RealtyTrac noted that it has improved or expanded data coverage for that area, which may impact the data. South Dakota was next with a 59.4 percent decline from August to September, followed by Vermont with a 54.6 percent decline, Virginia with a 49.2 percent decline and Connecticut with a 36.6 percent decline.

New Mexico had the highest monthly gain in foreclosure filings — up 136.9 percent from August to September — followed by Nebraska with a 69.7 percent rise, Illinois at 32.7 percent and Arkansas at 31.1 percent.

Meanwhile, South Dakota saw the steepest year-over-year decrease in foreclosure filings for the month of September at 38.1 percent, followed by Utah, down 24.1 percent; Oklahoma, down 19.3 percent; Kentucky, down 15.8 percent; and Montana, down 13.5 percent.

The sharpest year-over-year increase in September foreclosure filings was in New Hampshire, followed by Maine, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Iowa and Idaho, though RealtyTrac reported that it has improved or expanded data for all of those areas and the “actual increase may not be as high.”

Vermont had the lowest foreclosure rate in the nation in September, RealtyTrac reported, with one foreclosure for every 61,469 households, followed by South Dakota with one in 26,764 households, North Dakota with one in 16,914 households, West Virginia with one in 10,261 households and Mississippi with one in 7,627 households.

“U.S. foreclosure activity experienced a fairly broad-based retreat in September, with 39 states reporting decreasing activity and national numbers down in all foreclosure categories — defaults, auctions and bank repossessions,” said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO, in a statement.

“It’s too early to tell if September’s numbers represent a one-month lull or if they could signify that more buyers and investors are getting back in the market and snatching up discounted foreclosure properties, thereby providing a release valve for distressed homeowners and overwhelmed lenders.”

Eight of 10 metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates in the nation in September were in California or Florida, RealtyTrac reported, with six of those in California.

Merced, Calif., had the highest metro-area foreclosure rate, with one foreclosure filing for every 68 households, followed by Modesto, Calif.; Stockton, Calif.; and Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.

Other California metros in the top 10 were Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., eighth on the list; and Sacramento, Calif., in 10th place. Detroit was fifth in the list among metro areas with the highest rate of foreclosure; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was sixth; and Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, Fla., was seventh.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers was the only metro area in the top 10 to report an increase in foreclosure activity in September compared to August, RealtyTrac reported.

Las Vegas ranked ninth in the nation with one foreclosure filing for every 150 households.

The RealtyTrac monthly U.S. Foreclosure Market Report tracks filings for all three phases of foreclosure. In addition to its monthly reports, the company also issues reports four times each year that is based on foreclosure numbers by unique household — those reports are in response to critics who have charged that the company has in some cases overstated foreclosures by counting individual properties multiple times (see related article here).

*Actual increase may not be as high due to improved or expanded data coverage in this state.
Source: RealtyTrac

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