Properties receiving foreclosure filings jumped 16 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, according to a quarterly report by foreclosure data site RealtyTrac.

Filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — went to 932,234 properties, a 7 percent surge from the fourth quarter. That means 1 in every 138 housing units in the country received a foreclosure filing, the report said.

March saw the biggest monthly total since RealtyTrac’s first U.S. Foreclosure Market Report in January 2005: 367,056 properties posted filings in March — 39.4 percent of total for the first quarter.

"Foreclosure activity in the first quarter of 2010 followed a very similar pattern to what we saw in the first quarter of 2009: a shallow trough in January and February followed by a substantial spike in March," said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO.

"One difference, however, is that the increases were more tilted toward the final stage of foreclosure, with REOs increasing 9 percent on a quarterly basis in the first quarter of 2010 compared to a 13 percent quarterly decrease in REOs in the first quarter of 2009."

With a total of 257,944 properties repossessed by the lender during the quarter, REOs hit a record-high total, the report said, and REOs soared 35 percent compared to the same period last year.

"This subtle shift in the numbers … may be further evidence that lenders are starting to make a dent in the backlog of distressed inventory that has built up over the last year as foreclosure prevention programs and processing delays slowed down the normal foreclosure timeline," Saccacio said.

At 369,491, scheduled auctions during the first quarter also hit a record high, rising 21 percent quarter-over-quarter and 12 percent from the fourth quarter.

The number of properties receiving default notices was mostly flat, rising 1 percent to 304,799 quarter-over-quarter and falling 1 percent from the previous quarter. They peaked in the third quarter of last year at more than 342,000, the report said.

More than 70 percent of the nation’s first-quarter foreclosure activity was concentrated 10 states, the report said. California had the nation’s highest total of properties receiving foreclosure filings: 216,263, or 23 percent of all activity. …CONTINUED

Next came Florida, with 153,540 properties receiving a filing, followed by Arizona (55,686), Illinois (45,780), Michigan (45,732), Georgia (39,911), Texas (37,354), Nevada (34,557), Ohio (33,221) and Colorado (16,023), the report said.

The number of properties in Nevada receiving a foreclosure filing fell 16 percent from 2009’s first quarter, but rose 15 percent from the fourth quarter.

According to RealtyTrac, Nevada has been contending with the nation’s highest foreclosure rate for the past 13 quarters. A staggering 1 in 33 housing units received a foreclosure filing in the first quarter, four times the national average, the report said.

For the third straight quarter, Arizona posted the nation’s second-highest rate with one in every 49 properties receiving a foreclosure filing, the report said. The state’s foreclosure rate rose 13.8 percent quarter-over-quarter and 22.4 percent from the previous quarter.

Florida registered the third-highest foreclosure rate in the nation for the second straight month. One in every 57 properties got a filing, increasing 28.8 percent quarter-over-quarter and 7 percent from the previous quarter.

Foreclosure activity in California fell 6.4 percent from the same time last year, but rose 4.7 percent from the fourth quarter, giving the state the fourth-highest foreclosure rate. One in every 62 units got a filing.

Utah had the fifth-highest rate — 1 in every 88 housing units had a foreclosure filing. There, foreclosure activity skyrocketed a whopping 75.1 percent from the same quarter last year and 21.2 percent from the fourth quarter.

Michigan, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois and Colorado rounded out the states with the top 10 foreclosure rates.

RealtyTrac bases its foreclosure reports on foreclosure filing data from 2,200 counties across the country, accounting for more than 90 percent of the American population.


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