The volume of U.S. foreclosure filings rose about 57 percent in January compared to the same month last year, foreclosure research company RealtyTrac reported today.

Nevada led all states with foreclosure filings for 0.6 percent of all households, followed by California with a 0.44 percent household foreclosure filings rate, and Florida at 0.37 percent.

Nationally, there were 233,001 foreclosure filings in January, and the household foreclosure rate was 0.19 percent.

Foreclosure filings rose more than 100 percent year-over-year in January in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Florida, California and Arizona — Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut also had substantial gains in foreclosure activity, though RealtyTrac reported that the increase in those three states may be inflated because of changes in data coverage.

The volume of foreclosure filings rose 258.7 percent in Rhode Island, 186.9 percent in Massachusetts, 157.7 percent in Florida, 120.2 percent in California and 117.5 percent in Arizona from January 2007 to January 2008, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the volume of foreclosure filings fell 55.1 percent in Pennsylvania, dropped 53.9 percent in West Virginia, and was down 50 percent in Vermont (based on one reported foreclosure filing in January), 39.7 percent in Kentucky and 28 percent in New Mexico during the same period.

Delaware had the largest rise in foreclosure filings in January compared to December 2007, up 220.4 percent. Foreclosure filings were up 181.3 percent in Rhode Island, 113.3 percent in Connecticut, 90.2 percent in Washington, D.C., and 88.8 percent in Massachusetts in January compared to December.

Besides Vermont, the largest monthly drops in foreclosure filings in January were in Alaska, down 64.5 percent; Nebraska, down 46.2 percent; Nevada, down 44.6 percent; Montana, down 40.4 percent; and Pennsylvania, down 24.8 percent, RealtyTrac reported.

Nationally, foreclosure activity rose 8 percent in January compared to December.

"January’s foreclosure numbers demonstrate that foreclosure activity is continuing on its upward trend, substantially increasing from a year ago in many states," said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO, in a statement.

He noted that the 8 percent monthly increase in foreclosure filings was not as sharp as the 19 percent monthly spike in January 2007, though, "and several key states actually experienced decreasing foreclosure activity from the previous month.

"It could be that some of the efforts on the part of lenders and the government — both at the state and federal level — are beginning to take effect. The big question is whether those efforts are truly helping homeowners avoid foreclosure in the long term or if they are just temporarily forestalling the inevitable for many beleaguered borrowers," he added.

California led the nation in total foreclosure filings, with 57,158 in January. Florida followed with 30,178; Texas was third with 14,698; Ohio had 12,785; and Michigan had 10,746. RealtyTrac reported one foreclosure filing in Vermont in January; South Dakota had 22; North Dakota had 23; Wyoming had 43; and West Virginia had 53, according to the report.

Eight of the 10 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in January were in California and Florida, RealtyTrac also reported.

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., metro area had the highest January foreclosure rate among 229 metro areas tracked, followed by Stockton, Calif.; Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.; Modesto, Calif.; Merced, Calif.; Las Vegas; Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.; Greeley, Colo.; Bakersfield, Calif.; and Port St. Lucie-Port Pierce, Fla.

In a separate report earlier this month, the National Association of Realtors announced that median single-family resale home prices fell in 77 of 150 metro areas tracked in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared to fourth-quarter 2006. The median price in the Lansing, Mich., metro area, dropped about 18.8 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, while rising 19 percent in the Cumberland, Md.-W.V., metro area.

A housing affordability report released last week by the National Association of Home Builders found that Indianapolis was the most affordable U.S. housing market with a population above 500,000 or more in the fourth quarter. And seven of the top 10 most affordable major metro areas during the fourth quarter are in Michigan and Ohio.

Meanwhile, seven of the top-10 least affordable major metro areas in the fourth quarter are located in California: Los Angeles was ranked as the least affordable, followed by San Francisco.

U.S. Foreclosure Market Statistics by State – Jan 2008

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

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