Foreclosure-related filings on U.S. homes jumped 6 percent from January to February, with more dramatic increases in hard hit states like Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Nevada, data aggregator RealtyTrac said today.

Looking back a year, the number of foreclosure-related filings — including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — was up 30 percent, to 290,631.

Foreclosure-related filings on U.S. homes jumped 6 percent from January to February, with more dramatic increases in hard-hit states like Arizona, Florida, Michigan and Nevada, data aggregator RealtyTrac said today.

Looking back a year, the number of foreclosure-related filings — including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — was up 30 percent, to 290,631.

Not all properties that enter the foreclosure process end up being auctioned or repossessed by lenders. But the Mortgage Bankers Association said last week that a record 8 percent of all mortgages were behind at least one payment during the fourth quarter, and that the percentage of loans 60 days or 90 days past due also set records (see story).

Data collected by RealtyTrac showed foreclosure-related filings climbing in 26 states from January to February, but easing in 20 others including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and several Northeastern states. The number of foreclosure-related filings was essentially unchanged from the previous month in four states — Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

The 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates were Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, Oregon and Ohio.

But in terms of raw numbers, seven states — California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio — accounted for 69 percent of all foreclosure-related filings.

Several of those states were among those experiencing the most dramatic increases in foreclosure-related filings from January to February, including Arizona (up 23 percent), Florida (up 14 percent), Michigan (up 10 percent), and Nevada (up 9 percent).

California — which accounted for more than one in four filings — saw a more modest increase of 5 percent from January to February. Foreclosure-related filings were down slightly in Illinois (-1.6 percent) and essentially unchanged in Ohio.

Foreclosure rates can vary dramatically from state to state, city to city, and even neighborhood to neighborhood. Factors include the extent to which speculation drove up prices during the boom, the availability of jobs, and laws and foreclosure moratoriums enacted by some states.

RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio noted that a 45-day voluntary moratorium in Florida expired at the end of January, and said many New York foreclosure proceedings delayed for 90 days by a new law appeared to have hit the system in February.

Foreclosure-related filings on New York homes were up 23 percent from the previous month, but were down 18 percent from a year ago.

Looking back a year, foreclosure-related filings were up 51 percent in California, to 80,755; 43 percent in Florida, to 46,391; and 88 percent in Arizona, to 18,119.

The Obama administration has launched an initiative to help as many as 9 million homeowners avoid foreclosure by refinancing or modifying the terms of their loans. But many won’t qualify for the program, either because they owe much more than their homes are now worth or they don’t have sufficient income to make even the reduced monthly payments afforded by a loan modification (see story).

Troubled borrowers can now apply for help from their mortgage servicer by submitting details about their financial situation using an online application form at HopeNow.com, or by calling (888) 995-4673.

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