Fewer people received default notices, had their homes up for auction and had their homes repossessed by banks in January compared to December, according to a report released by foreclosure property site RealtyTrac Thursday.

Such foreclosure filings were up 15 percent from January 2009, however, with more than 300,000 properties (315,716) receiving filings for the 11th consecutive month.

Bank repossessions alone were down 5 percent month-to-month, but up 31 percent year-over-year; default notices decreased 12 percent month-to-month, but increased 4 percent year-over-year; and scheduled auctions fell 11 percent month-to-month, but rose 15 percent from January 2009, the report said.

"January foreclosure numbers are exhibiting a pattern very similar to a year ago: a double-digit percentage jump in December foreclosure activity followed by a 10 percent drop in January," said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO.

"If history repeats itself we will see a surge in the numbers over the next few months as lenders foreclose on delinquent loans where neither the existing loan modification programs or the new short sale and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure alternatives works."

Nevada’s foreclosure rate was the highest in the nation for the 37th straight month with 1 in every 95 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing. Though the rate decreased 18 percent year-over-year, that rate is still four times the national average, the report said.

The residents of six states — California, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Michigan and Texas — received almost 60 percent of the nation’s foreclosure filings.

California had the highest number of filings — 71,817 — and had the third-highest ratio of foreclosures to housing units — 1 in 187. Florida had the second-highest number of filings — 47,069 — and the same ratio of foreclosures to units. Foreclosure activity decreased almost 11 percent in the former and almost 15 percent in the latter compared to December. …CONTINUED

Arizona was next in terms of filings with 21,048 and had the second-highest foreclosure rate with residents in 1 in 129 units receiving filings.

In Utah, 1 in 231 units received filings (a total of 4,087), the fifth-highest rate in the country and a 128.2 percent year-over-year increase in the number of filings.

Illinois received 18,120 filings, a 2 percent month-to-month increase and a 25 percent year-over-year increase; Michigan got 17,574 filings, and Texas got 12,225.

Among the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates (and a population of 200,000 or above), only Phoenix registered a monthly foreclosure increase, almost 4 percent, or 1 in 102 housing units — the second-highest foreclosure rate among the top 10, the report said.

Las Vegas held the nation’s highest foreclosure rate, 1 in 82, though activity fell 2 percent month-to-month and almost 21 percent year-over-year.

California metro areas held spots 3 through 8 among the top 10: Modesto and Stockton at 1 in 107; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario and Merced at 1 in 109; Vallejo-Fairfield at 1 in 112; and Bakersfield at 1 in 118.

Florida took up the remaining spots with Cape Coral-Fort Myers at 1 in 121, and Orlando-Kissimmee at 1 in 143.

The report is based on data from RealtyTrac’s listings database, which contains more than 1.5 million foreclosure listings from 2,200 counties nationwide, which cover at least 90 percent of the U.S. population, according to the company’s site. If multiple foreclosure actions are taken against a property in one month, only the most recent filing is included in the report results.

***

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