Foreclosure inventory saw a 19.5 percent decrease from a year ago as foreclosure inventory was reduced to 1.2 million homes, down from 1.5 million in December 2011.
The number of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process was also down month-over-month, decreasing by about 4.2 percent from November. Foreclosure inventory in December accounted for about 3 percent of all homes with a mortgage.
"The most encouraging foreclosure trend reported here is that the inventory of foreclosed properties is almost 20 percent smaller than a year ago," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. ""This big improvement indicates we are working toward resolving the backlog of the most distressed assets in the shadow inventory.""
Completed foreclosures also fell on a yearly and monthly basis as fewer homes were lost to foreclosure in December. According to CoreLogic, completed foreclosures were down 21 percent from a year ago after they decreased to 56,000 in December from 71,000 a year ago. Month-over-month, completed foreclosures declined 3 percent from November's revised 58,000.
During the pre-crisis years between 2000 and 2006, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month, according to CoreLogic. Since September 2008, the data provider estimates about 4.1 million homes have been lost to foreclosure.
Over a one-year period ending in December, California led as the state with the highest number of completed foreclosures--100,000. Florida was close behind with 98,000, followed by Michigan (74,000), Texas (57,000), and Georgia (49,000).
CoreLogic also ranked states according to foreclosure inventory and found Florida led with the highest foreclosure inventory rate--10.1 percent. Other states on the top five list were New Jersey (7.0 percent), New York (5.1 percent), Nevada (4.7 percent), and Illinois (4.5 percent).