U.S. foreclosure filings on U.S. properties fell 34 percent year-over-year in April, according to a report from foreclosure data site RealtyTrac.

One in every 593 housing units, or 219,258 properties, received a foreclosure filing — default notice, scheduled auction, or bank repossession — last month. That’s a 9 percent drop from March and a 34 drop from April 2010.

"Foreclosure activity decreased on an annual basis for the seventh straight month in April, bringing foreclosure activity to a 40-month low," said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO, in a statement.

"This slowdown continues to be largely the result of massive delays in processing foreclosures rather than the result of a housing recovery that is lifting people out of foreclosure."

States with a judicial foreclosure process saw activity decrease 47 percent year-over-year in April, while states with a nonjudicial foreclosure process saw activity fall 26 percent year-over-year.

In the first quarter, completed foreclosures took an average of 400 days from the initial default notice to bank repossession, compared to 340 days in first-quarter 2010 and 151 days in first-quarter 2007, the report said.

Average foreclosure timelines were longest in New Jersey and New York, both over 900 days, and Florida, at 619 days.

"The first delay occurs between delinquency and foreclosure, when lenders and services are no longer automatically pushing loans that are more than 90 days delinquent into foreclosure but are waiting longer to allow for loan modifications, short sales and possibly other disposition alternatives," Saccacio said.

"Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that about 3.7 million properties are in this seriously delinquent stage. The second delay occurs after foreclosure has started, when lenders are taking much longer than they were just a few years ago to complete the foreclosure process."

Default notices fell the most year-over-year: 39 percent, with 63,422 properties receiving that initial filing. Scheduled foreclosure auctions fell 37 percent, to a total 86,304 properties — a 31-month low. Bank repossessions fell 25 percent year-over-year, with 69,532 foreclosed on in April.

Ten states accounted for 70 percent of all foreclosure activity last month. California had the highest volume of properties receiving a filing (55,869), followed by Florida (19,649), Arizona (13,419), Michigan (12,996), Nevada (11,761), Illinois (10,055), Texas (8,793), Georgia (8,479), Ohio (7,962) and Colorado (4,379).

Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate among states for the 52nd straight month in April: one in 97 housing units received a foreclosure filing that month, the report said. Though overall foreclosure activity in the state fell 27 percent year-over-year, bank repossessions rose 12 percent to hit an all-time monthly high: 4,606.

For the fifth straight month, Arizona held the highest foreclosure rate in the nation with one in 205 housing units receiving a filing. Overall foreclosure activity in Arizona fell 17 percent year-over-year, though bank repossessions rose 22 percent.

Bank repossessions also rose 22 percent year-over-year in California, while overall foreclosure activity fell 20 percent. The Golden State had the third highest foreclosure rate in the nation, with one in 240 units receiving a foreclosure filing.

10 states with the highest foreclosure activity rates in the nation in April 2011:

Rank State Foreclosure activity rate % change year-over-year foreclosure activity
1 Nevada 1 in 97 housing units -27.5%
2 Arizona 1 in 205 units -16.6%
3 California 1 in 240 units -19.9%
4 Utah 1 in 322 units -30.6%
5 Idaho 1 in 325 units -29.6%
6 Michigan 1 in 349 units -32.2%
7 Florida 1 in 451 units -59.4%
8 Georgia 1 in 479 units -39.3%
9 Colorado 1 in 495 units -31.4%
10 Oregon 1 in 497 units -13.6%

Source: RealtyTrac

Among metro areas with a population of 200,000 or more, three states accounted for those with the ten highest foreclosure rates: California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Rank Metro Foreclosure activity rate
1 Las Vegas 1 in 82 housing units
2 Modesto, Calif. 1 in 136 units
3 Stockton, Calif. 1 in 138 units
4 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. 1 in 145 units
5 Bakersfield, Calif. 1 in 151 units
6 Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, Calif. 1 in 166 units
7 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 1 in 168 units
8 Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. 1 in 175 units
9 Reno-Sparks, Nev. 1 in 183 units
10 Merced, Calif. 1 in 195 units

Source: RealtyTrac

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