The number of foreclosure-related filings on U.S. homes increased slightly from March to April, hitting a new high for the downturn, according to data aggregator RealtyTrac.

The 342,038 foreclosure-related filings recorded by RealtyTrac in April represented an increase of less than 1 percent from March, but a 32 percent increase from the year before. The rate of filings — one for every 374 homes — represented a high dating back to January 2005, when RealtyTrac began reporting.

Not every home subjected to a filing will ultimately be repossessed by lenders. RealtyTrac tracks public records generated as properties move through three phases of foreclosure — default, notice of foreclosure sale, and repossession by lenders.

RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio said many properties subjected to filings in April were in the initial stages of foreclosure — default and auction — while bank repossessions were down on a monthly and annual basis to their lowest level since March 2008.

That suggests many lenders and servicers are beginning foreclosure proceedings on delinquent loans that had been delayed by legislative and industry moratoriums, Saccacio said, which is likely to produce a corresponding spike in real estate-owned, or REO properties, over the next few months.

More than three out of four properties subjected to foreclosure-related filings were located in 10 states: California (96,560 filings), Florida (64,588), Nevada (16,266) Arizona (16,245), Ohio (12,324), Georgia (11,521), Texas (11,314), Michigan (10,830) and Virginia (6,254).

With one foreclosure-related filing for every 68 homes, Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, followed by Florida (1 in 135), California (1 in 138), Arizona (1 in 164), Utah (1 in 312), Georgia (1 in 344), Illinois (1 in 384), Colorado (1 in 387) and Ohio (1 in 411). The foreclosure rate for the U.S. as a whole, by comparison, was 1 in 374 homes.

At the metro level, foreclosure-related filings fell 20 percent from March to April in Las Vegas, to 14,073, but the city continued to post the highest foreclosure rate among metro areas with a population of at least 200,000. One in every 56 Las Vegas housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month.

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., metro area saw one in 57 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in April, up 31 percent from the previous month. Two other Florida metro areas also documented foreclosure rates in the top 10: Miami at No. 9 and Orlando at No. 10.

With one in every 65 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing, Merced, Calif., posted the nation’s third-highest metro foreclosure rate. Five other California metro areas also documented foreclosure rates in the top 10: Modesto at No. 4, Riverside-San Bernardino at No. 5, Bakersfield at No. 6, Vallejo-Fairfield at No. 7, and Stockton at No. 8.

Data aggregator ForeclosureRadar, which tracks properties through the foreclosure process in California, said sales at auction rose by 35 percent in April, with a record number of properties purchased by third parties at an average 28 percent discount from estimated market value. Notices of default dropped by 18.2 percent from March’s record level, while notices of trustee sale fell by 8.5 percent.


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