U.S. foreclosure activity increased 57 percent in March compared with the same month a year ago, data provider RealtyTrac reported today, and Nevada continued to lead the nation with one foreclosure filing for every 139 households, nearly four times the national average.

U.S. foreclosure activity increased 57 percent in March compared with the same month a year ago, data provider RealtyTrac reported today, and Nevada continued to lead the nation with one foreclosure filing for every 139 households, nearly four times the national average.

At the national level, there were 234,685 total foreclosure filings in March, which includes filings for properties in default, scheduled for auction and real-estate-owned or REO foreclosure properties that have been repurchased by a bank. The national rate of foreclosure in March was one filing for every 538 households.

The national foreclosure rate was up 5 percent in March from the previous month.

Nevada, California and Florida continued to top state foreclosure rates. Foreclosure rates in California and Florida ranked second and third highest respectively among the states for the fourth straight month. One in every 204 California households received a foreclosure filing in March — 2.6 times the national average — and one in every 282 Florida households received a foreclosure filing during the month — 1.9 times the national average.

Despite a nearly 5 percent monthly dip in foreclosure activity, Arizona posted the nation’s fourth highest state foreclosure rate for the third straight month, with one in every 283 households receiving a foreclosure filing in March. Foreclosure filings were reported on 9,199 properties during the month, up nearly 106 percent from March 2007.

Colorado foreclosure activity decreased 8 percent from the previous month and 1 percent from March 2007, but the state’s foreclosure rate continued to rank fifth highest among the states, according to RealtyTrac’s tallies. Foreclosure filings were reported on 6,180 Colorado properties during the month — one in every 339 total households.

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 were Georgia, Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts and Maryland.

California, Florida and Ohio reported the highest foreclosure totals for individual states in March.

Foreclosure filings were reported on 64,711 California properties in March, the most of any state for the 15th consecutive month. California foreclosure activity increased nearly 21 percent from the previous month and almost 106 percent from March 2007.

Florida posted the nation’s second highest total, with foreclosure filings reported on 30,254 properties in March. The state’s foreclosure activity decreased nearly 7 percent from the previous month but was still up almost 112 percent from March 2007.

 Ohio and Georgia both registered month-to-month and year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity, and foreclosure filings were reported on more than 11,000 properties in both states. Ohio’s total of 11,273 was the nation’s third highest, and one in every 448 Ohio households received a foreclosure filing during the month — ranking its foreclosure rate No. 7 among the states. Georgia’s total of 11,047 was the nation’s fourth highest, and one in every 351 Georgia households received a foreclosure filing during the month — ranking its foreclosure rate No. 6 among the states.

Foreclosure filings were reported on a total of 10,700 Texas properties in March, a nearly 13 percent decrease from the previous month and a 16 percent decrease from March 2007, and the state’s total dropped to fifth highest among the states.

Other states in the top 10 for total properties with filings were Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, Nevada and Colorado.

"The March numbers show that overall foreclosure activity so far this year continues to run nearly 60 percent above the levels we saw last year," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

"On a year-over-year basis, default notices were up nearly 57 percent and bank repossessions were up nearly 129 percent, but auction notices were up only 32 percent, indicating that more defaulting homeowners are simply walking away and deeding their properties back to the foreclosing lender," he said. "This deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure process allows the lender to take possession of a property without putting it up for public foreclosure auction."

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