The number of properties hit with foreclosure-related filings in 2009 climbed 21 percent from the year before, to 2.82 million, data aggregator and foreclosure property search site RealtyTrac said Thursday.

The number of foreclosure-related filings was up 120 percent from 2007, and would likely have been higher if not for delays in processing delinquent loans, said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio.

Foreclosure-related filings peaked in July with more than 361,000 homes subjected to foreclosure-related filings, Saccacio said, followed by four straight monthly decreases "driven primarily by short-term factors: trial loan modifications, state legislation extending the foreclosure process, and an overwhelming volume of inventory clogging the foreclosure pipeline."

Not all properties subjected to foreclosure-related filings — which include default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions — complete the process.

Some homeowners negotiate loan modifications or workouts with lenders, and others get approval to negotiate "short sales" in which the sale price doesn’t cover the total amount owed.

The Obama administration wants loan servicers to determine that borrowers aren’t eligible for Making Home Affordable loan modifications and refinancings before initiating foreclosure proceedings. The Making Home Affordable program also offers incentives for short sales.

According to RealtyTrac, 2.21 percent of U.S. homes were subjected to a foreclosure-related filing in 2009.

The states with the highest foreclosure filing rates were Nevada (10.17 percent), Arizona (6.12), Florida (5.93 percent), California (4.75 percent), Utah (2.93 percent), Idaho (2.72 percent), Georgia (2.68 percent), Michigan (2.61 percent), Illinois (2.5 percent) and Colorado (2.37 percent).

In terms of raw numbers, just four states accounted for half of all foreclosure-related filings — California (632,573 properties subjected to filings), Florida (516,711), Arizona (163,210) and Illinois (131,132).

Other states in the top 10 for total number of properties subjected to a foreclosure-related filing were Michigan (118,302), Nevada (112,097), Georgia (106,110), Ohio (101,614), Texas (100,045) and New Jersey (63,208).

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