Foreclosure backlogs continue to ease in states where courts handle the process as the number of properties headed to the auction block climbed for the 16th month in a row in October, according to the latest report from foreclosure data aggregator RealtyTrac.

Overall U.S. foreclosure activity — filings of default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — rose 2 percent from September to October, but was down 28 percent year over year. Filings came in on 133,919 U.S. properties, or 1 in every 978 units. Florida, Nevada, Maryland, Ohio and Illinois posted the nation’s highest foreclosure rates among states.

But the total number of scheduled judicial foreclosure auctions, or “notices of foreclosure sale,” increased 7 percent on an annual basis last month and 10 percent on a monthly basis to 30,023. Judicial foreclosure states with the biggest annual spikes in auctions included Maryland (up 177 percent), Delaware (up 142 percent), New York (up 98 percent), New Jersey (up 97 percent), Pennsylvania (up 58 percent), Connecticut (up 35 percent), and Florida (up 32 percent), RealtyTrac said.

“The backlog of delayed judicial foreclosures continues to make its way through the pipeline, with many of these properties now being scheduled for the public auction after starting the foreclosure process last year or earlier this year,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a statement.

“Lenders are likely moving these properties more rapidly to the public auction given that there is strong demand from institutional buy-to-rent investors at the auction and that rising home prices mean more of the loan losses can be recouped, either by selling to an investor at the auction or by repossessing the property and reselling as bank owned.”

RealtyTrac foreclosure activity

Foreclosure starts rose on a monthly basis for the second month in a row in October, by 2 percent, but fell for the 15th straight month on an annual basis, down 34 percent, to 58,939.

Bank repossessions, also known as REOs, fell year over year for the 11th straight month, down 29 percent to 37,775. REOs also fell from the previous month, by 1 percent. Fifteen states saw increases in REOs last month, including Oklahoma (up 59 percent), Maryland (up 54 percent), Virginia (up 47 percent), Ohio (up 30 percent), and Washington (up 30 percent), RealtyTrac said.

Miami, Tampa, Chicago, Baltimore, and Riverside-San Bernardino (Calif.) posted the highest foreclosure rates among the 20 largest metro areas. Baltimore’s foreclosure activity jumped a whopping 296 percent year over year, the 13th straight month the metro saw an annual increase in filings.

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