After hitting a record high in September, bank repossessions fell 9 percent in October — likely the result of foreclosure freezes by some major lenders, according to a report by foreclosure data site RealtyTrac.

Total foreclosure activity in October — default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions — fell 4.4 percent from September, though remained essentially flat from October 2009. A total of 332,172 properties received a foreclosure filing last month — one in every 389 housing units.

"October marks the 20th consecutive month where over 300,000 U.S. homeowners received a foreclosure notice," said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO, in a statement.

"The numbers probably would have been higher except for the fallout from the recent ‘robo-signing’ controversy — which is the most likely reason for the 9 percent monthly drop in REOs (bank-owned homes) we saw from September to October and which may result in further decreases in November."

Banks foreclosed on 93,236 U.S. properties in October — a drop from September’s record high of 102,134, but still a 21 percent increase from October 2009. REOs fell month-to-month in 33 states and Washington, D.C., and fell year-over-year in 14 states.

The number of properties receiving default notices fell 2 percent month-to-month and 19 percent year-over-year, to 100,575. October is the ninth consecutive month to see year-over-year drops in default notices, RealtyTrac said.

The number of foreclosure auctions scheduled fell 3 percent from September, but rose 6 percent from October 2009, to 138,361 properties.

Nevada continued to post the nation’s highest rate of foreclosure activity: one in every 79 housing units received a foreclosure filing in October, a total of 14,205 properties. That’s a 13 percent drop from October, but also the state’s first year-over-year increase (2.6 percent) in foreclosure activity since September 2009, RealtyTrac reported.

Florida held the No. 2 spot for the third month in a row with one in every 155 homes receiving a foreclosure filing, a total of 56,858 properties. The state also had the second highest volume of properties, accounting for 17 percent of all foreclosure activity nationwide. Foreclosure activity in Florida rose 9.5 percent year-over-year.

Arizona posted the nation’s third-highest foreclosure rate: one in every 165 homes received a filing, a total of 16,538 properties. That’s a 23.9 percent increase in foreclosure activity when compared to October 2009.

California had the fourth highest foreclosure rate in October with one in every 201 homes receiving a foreclosure filing, a total of 66,475 properties — the highest statewide volume in the country.

Nevada, Florida and California accounted for the top 10 metropolitan areas (with populations of 200,000 or more) with the highest foreclosure rates. At the top of the list was Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., where one in every 70 housing units received a foreclosure filing, essentially flat from October 2009. Next was Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. (1 in every 96 units) and Modesto, Calif. (1 in 102).

Also in California, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Stockton, and Merced held the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, respectively. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla., followed at No. 7 and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., at No. 8. Reno-Sparks, Nev., ranked ninth, followed by Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla., at No. 10.

All 10 metro areas posted month-to-month drops in foreclosure activity, while seven also posted year-over-year drops, RealtyTrac said.

The five states to see the highest year-over-year percentage increases in foreclosure activity were Washington (90.2 percent), Utah (51.8 percent), West Virginia (48 percent), North Carolina (39.8 percent), and Hawaii (37.4 percent). This does not include states whose increases may not be as high due to data collection changes or improvements.

The five states to see the highest year-over-year percentage decreases in foreclosure activity were Maryland (-52.42 percent), Tennessee (-33.87 percent), New Jersey (-30.09 percent), Rhode Island (-25.14 percent), and California (-22.18 percent).

Top 10 states with the highest foreclosure activity rates in October:

1. Nevada (1 filing per 79 homes)

2. Florida (1 in 155)

3. Arizona (1 in 165)

4. California (1 in 201)

5. Michigan (1 in 235)

6. Utah (1 in 259)

7. Georgia (1 in 271)

8. Idaho (1 in 279)

9. Illinois (1 in 311)

10. Colorado (1 in 374)

Top 10 states with the highest foreclosure activity by volume in October:

1. California: 66,475 properties

2. Florida: 56,858

3. Michigan: 19,288

4. Illinois: 16,969

5. Arizona: 16,538

6. Georgia: 14,850

7. Nevada: 14,205

8. Ohio: 13,233

9. Texas: 13,008

10. Washington: 6,346

Source: RealtyTrac.

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