Foreclosure-related filings rose 4 percent from March to April and 65 percent from a year ago, with nearly a quarter of a million properties nationwide subject to a default notice, auction-sale notice or bank repossession, data aggregator RealtyTrac reported.

RealtyTrac estimates that about 2 percent of households nationwide are in some stage of the foreclosure process, with parts of California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona among the hardest hit.

Of the 10 cities with the highest rate of foreclosure-related filings, nine were in California and Florida.

In California, Merced led the nation in foreclosure-related filings with one per 66 households. Stockton, Modesto, Riverside, Vallejo-Fairfield and Bakersfield also made the top 10 list.

In Florida, three communities — Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Port Lucie-Fort Pierce and Fort Lauderdale — had foreclosure rates that placed them in the top 10 among 230 metropolitan areas where RealtyTrac collects data.

Las Vegas cracked the top 10 list at number seven, with one in 116 homes subject to a foreclosure-related filing in April, RealtyTrac said.

Although Nevada saw foreclosure activity fall 5 percent from March, the state continued to have the highest rate of foreclosure-related filings in the nation — one per 146 homes.

California followed with one filing per 204 households, while a 26 percent month-over-month increase in filings bumped Arizona into third place with one filing per 224 households.

Florida, with one filing per 242 households, trailed in fourth place, while Colorado had the fifth-highest rate with one filing per 349 households.

Nationwide, foreclosure filings were up 4.4 percent from March and 64.7 percent from a year ago, to 243,353 — one foreclosure-related filing per 519 homes.

Not all filings result in foreclosure, because in some cases borrowers are able to work out loan modifications or short sales with lenders.

Of the foreclosure filings documented by RealtyTrac in April, 46 percent were notices of default or lis pendens (warnings of a pending legal claim on a property).

Another 32 percent were notices of trustee or foreclosure sales, while the remaining 22 percent represented "real estate-owned" or REO properties foreclosed on and repossessed by a bank.

If more than one foreclosure document is filed against a property in a given month, only the most recent filing is counted in the report.

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