Continued fallout from the "robo signing" controversy saw loan servicers throttle back foreclosure filings during the first quarter to their lowest level in two years, according to public records gathered by data aggregator RealtyTrac.

RealtyTrac counted 681,153 foreclosure-related filings against U.S. properties during the first three months of the year, down 15 percent from fourth-quarter 2010 and down 27 percent from first-quarter 2010.

Housing markets face a dual threat: looming shadow inventory and the probability that foreclosure filings will pick up as loan servicers put the robo-signing controversy behind them, said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio in a statement.

Federal regulators on Wednesday announced a partial settlement with the nation’s largest loan servicers that requires them to hire outside consultants to review foreclosures initiated in 2009 and 2010 and compensate homeowners who should not have been foreclosed on.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that foreclosure filings were at a three-year low during the first quarter of 2011.

Continued fallout from the "robo signing" controversy saw loan servicers throttle back foreclosure filings during the first quarter to their lowest level in three years, according to public records gathered by data aggregator RealtyTrac.

RealtyTrac counted 681,153 foreclosure-related filings against U.S. properties during the first three months of the year, down 15 percent from fourth-quarter 2010 and down 27 percent from first-quarter 2010.

Housing markets face a dual threat: looming shadow inventory and the probability that foreclosure filings will pick up as loan servicers put the robo-signing controversy behind them, said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio in a statement.

Federal regulators on Wednesday announced a partial settlement with the nation’s largest loan servicers that requires them to hire outside consultants to review foreclosures initiated in 2009 and 2010 and compensate homeowners who should not have been foreclosed on.

The biggest drop in first-quarter foreclosure-related filings was among homes hit with default notices for the first time. Loan servicers filed default notices on 197,112 homes during the first quarter, down 17 percent from the fourth quarter and 35 percent from a year ago.

Auction notices were down 19 percent from the fourth quarter and down 27 percent from a year ago, to 268,995. Bank repossessions, on the other hand, fell just 6 percent from the fourth quarter, to 215,046 — a 17 percent decrease from the first quarter of 2010.

Slowdowns were magnified in judicial foreclosure states like Florida, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, where courts oversee the foreclosure process and the robo-signing controversy has had the greatest impact. Compared to a year ago, foreclosure-related filings were down 62 percent in Florida and Massachusetts, and 44 percent in New Jersey.

Among the 20 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates, 19 were in nonjudicial foreclosure states. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. was the lone exception.

Top 50 metro foreclosure rates

Rank

Market

Properties with filings

Filings per household

Percent change from year ago

U.S. Total

681,153

191

-26.93

1

Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.

26,275

          31

-7.74

2

Modesto, Calif.

3,809

          46

-25.87

3

Stockton, Calif.

4,821

          47

-23.80

4

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

36,422

         48

-19.42

5

Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.

3,111

          48

-14.11

6

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.

29,859

          49

-27.17

7

Merced, Calif.

1,605

          52

-30.43

8

Reno-Sparks, Nev.

3,369

          54

-10.78

9

Bakersfield, Calif.

4,729

          58

-25.45

10

Fresno, Calif.

4,986

          62

-7.51

11

Sacramento-Arden Arcade-Roseville, Calif.

13,606

          63

-21.98

12

Visalia-Porterville, Calif.

2,091

          67

-14.69

13

Boise City-Nampa, Idaho

3,458

          70

-10.58

14

Prescott, Ariz.

1,456

          73

-9.79

15

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga.

27,250

          79

-6.48

16

Salt Lake City, Utah

4,907

          82

-4.81

17

Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.

3,340

          82

-15.06

18

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.

4,248

          86

-58.74

19

Salinas, Calif.

1,616

          87

-31.93

20

Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich.

21,192

          90

-25.31

21

San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.

1,263

          93

7.58

22

Tucson, Ariz.

4,606

          93

0.15

23

Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif.

2,112

          94

-4.69

24

San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif.

11,784

          97

-28.88

25

Greeley, Colo.

971

          97

-26.83

26

Provo-Orem, Utah

1,504

          98

-21.67

27

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif.

45,083

          98

-23.97

28

Flint, Mich.

1,995

          99

-6.21

29

Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.

1,473

        103

-7.12

30

Racine, Wis.

785

        104

12.79

31

Chico, Calif.

929

        104

-8.29

32

Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark.-Mo.

1,809

        105

-23.77

33

San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.

16,240

        105

-16.46

34

Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.

977

        106

-8.61

35

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

5,448

        117

-21.78

36

Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.

30,172

        125

-28.24

37

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.

18,867

        129

-63.87

38

Lansing-East Lansing, Mich.

1,472

        134

9.20

39

Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.

2,335

        137

-6.90

40

Savannah, Ga.

1,083

        139

-2.87

41

Ogden-Clearfield, Utah

1,280

        142

-11.11

42

Ocala, Fla.

1,148

        142

-49.25

43

Denver-Aurora, Colo.

7,382

        144

-19.21

44

Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.

6,130

        148

-70.42

45

Jacksonville, Fla.

3,900

        154

-50.09

46

Port St. Lucie, Fla.

1,356

        154

-67.80

47

Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Fla.

2,547

        155

-60.02

48

Rockford, Ill.

930

        156

-41.25

49

Colorado Springs, Colo.

1,652

        157

-17.85

50

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.

8,438

        158

-56.24

Source: RealtyTrac

Nevada posted the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate: there was a foreclosure filing for one in every 35 housing units in that state. That compares to the U.S. average of one filing for every 191 housing units.

Arizona had the next highest state foreclosure rate (1 in 60 housing units), followed by California (1 in 80 units), Utah (1 in 98 units), Georgia (1 in 108), Michigan (1 in 121), Florida (1 in 152), Colorado (1 in 157) and Illinois (1 in 160).

In terms of raw numbers, California led all states with 168,543 properties receiving some type of foreclosure-related filing, followed by Florida (58,322), Arizona (46,047), Georgia (37,509), Michigan (37,506), Texas (34,646), Illinois (33,092), Nevada (32,066), Ohio (24,697) and Colorado (13,847).

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