The number of homes subjected to foreclosure-related filings fell 3.4 percent nationwide from May to June, data aggregator RealtyTrac reported today, thanks in part to improvements in the two states with the highest rate of foreclosure filings — Nevada and California.

The 253,363 properties subjected to filings in June represented a 53.3 percent increase from a year ago, RealtyTrac said, with bank repossessions increasing at a much faster clip than default notices or auction notices. Bank repossessions were up 171 percent from a year ago, to 71,563, compared with a 38 percent gain in default notices and a 22 percent increase in auction notices from a year ago.

One reason for the sharp year-over-year increase in bank repossessions is that it can take months for properties to work their way through the foreclosure process. Not all foreclosure-related filings result in foreclosure, because borrowers may be able to refinance their loans, and lenders will sometimes work out loan modifications or approve short sales. Many properties that became real estate owned in 2007 would have entered the foreclosure process in 2006, before the housing downturn worsened.

But the year-over-year increase in properties subjected to foreclosure-related filings in June, 2008 "indicates we have not yet reached the top of this foreclosure cycle," said James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, in a press release. Nevertheless, the number of properties subjected to filings in the two states with the highest filing rates fell from May to June.

Nevada, which RealtyTrac says has the highest rate of foreclosure-related filings in the nation — one for every 122 households — saw properties subjected to filings fall 3.3 percent from May to June, to 8,713. The state with the second-highest rate of filings, California, saw the number of properties subjected to filings fall 4.5 percent, to 68,666.

The number of properties hit with foreclosure-related filings in third place was Arizona whose rate remained essentially unchanged from May to June, at 12,950, or one in 201 households.

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 were Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana and Utah.

In terms of raw numbers, California, Florida and Ohio had the largest number of foreclosure related filings. Other states in the top 10 for total filings were Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, Nevada, Illinois and New York.

Seven of the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest rates of foreclosure-related filings were in California, including Stockton, Merced and Modesto. Two metro areas in Florida made the top 10 list: Cape-Coral-Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale. Las Vegas was the only area outside of California and Florida to make the list of top 10 metro foreclosure rates.

The report includes documents filed in all three phases of foreclosure: Default — Notice of Default (NOD) and Lis Pendens (LIS); Auction — Notice of Trustee Sale and Notice of Foreclosure Sale (NTS and NFS); and Real Estate Owned, or REO properties (that have been foreclosed on and repurchased by a bank). If more than one foreclosure document is filed against a property during the month only the most recent filing is counted in the report. If the same type of document was filed against a property in a previous month, and if that previous filing occurred within the estimated foreclosure timeframe for the state the property is in, the report does not count the property in the current month.

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