Foreclosure activity fell 29 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2010, according to a report from foreclosure data site RealtyTrac.

A total of 1.17 million properties nationwide received foreclosure filings — including default notices, auction sale notices or bank repossessions — in the first half of this year, down 29 percent from the first half of 2010 and 25 percent from the second half, the report said. The nation’s foreclosure activity rate was 1 in 111 housing units, or 0.9 percent of all units.

Foreclosure activity fell year-over-year for the ninth straight month in June, though it rose nearly 4 percent month-to-month. For the second quarter as a whole, filings fell nearly 11 percent compared to the first quarter and 32 percent compared to the second quarter of 2010, to a total of 608,235 properties. That’s the lowest quarterly total since fourth-quarter 2007, the report said.

That low is not from an improving housing market or economy, however, said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO, in a statement.

"Processing and procedural delays are pushing foreclosures further and further out — we estimate that as many as 1 million foreclosure actions that should have taken place in 2011 will now happen in 2012, or perhaps even later," he said. "This casts an ominous shadow over the housing market, where recovery is unlikely to happen until the current and forthcoming inventory of distressed properties can be whittled down to a manageable number."

For homes foreclosed in the second quarter, it took an average of 318 days for a home to go through the foreclosure process from the initial notice to the completed foreclosure, a 14.8 percent rise from 277 days in second-quarter 2010. The state to see the longest processing timeline was New York, at an average of 966 days, followed by New Jersey (944 days) and Florida  (676 days).

By contrast, Texas (92 days) and Virginia (106 days) had the shortest timelines.

Bank-owned properties (REOs) sold in the second quarter took an average of 178 days to sell after being foreclosed, an 8.5 percent rise from 164 days in second-quarter 2010. Properties took the longest to sell in New York (an average of 309 days), New Jersey (285 days), and Minnesota (268 days).

Properties in the foreclosure process, typically short sales, sold in the second quarter took an average of 213 days to sell from the beginning of the foreclosure process, up from 195 days in second-quarter 2010, the report said.

Nevada had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate in the first half of 2011, with 1 in 21 units receiving a foreclosure filing — a total of 53,217 properties. That’s a decrease of 17 percent from the first half of 2010.

Foreclosure activity in the state fell year-over-year for the fifth straight month in June, despite a 19 percent jump in bank repossessions, the report said.

Arizona and California had second- and third-highest foreclosure rates among the states, with 1 in 36 units and 1 in 51 units, respectively, receiving a filing.

10 states with the highest foreclosure activity rates in the nation in the first half of 2011:

Rank State Foreclosure activity rate % change foreclosure activity from Jan.-June 2010
1 Nevada 1 in 21 housing units -17.4%
2 Arizona 1 in 36 units -15.3%
3 California 1 in 51 units -22.7%
4 Utah 1 in 61 units -13.1%
5 Georgia 1 in 67 units -15.4%
6 Idaho 1 in 67 units -10.9%
7 Michigan 1 in 74 units -22.3%
8 Florida 1 in 78 units -59%
9 Colorado 1 in 84 units -14.7%
10 Illinois 1 in 87 units -28.9%

Source: RealtyTrac

Properties in California accounted for more than a fifth of all U.S. properties to receive a foreclosure filing. The state had 263,500 properties with foreclosure filings — the highest total among all states, even though it declined 23 percent compared to the first half of 2010.

A total of 113,641 properties in Florida received a foreclosure filing in the first half of 2011, a 59 percent drop from the same period a year ago. Although overall foreclosure activity fell year-over-year in the state in June, on a month-to-month basis default notices and scheduled auctions rose 44 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Arizona had the third-highest state total, with 77,525 properties receiving a foreclosure filing in the first half of the year. Foreclosure activity in the state fell 15 percent compared to the first half of 2010.

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