Foreclosure filings - default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions - totaled 188,780 in April 2012, which is the lowest monthly total since July 2007, according to RealtyTrac's ""Foreclosure Market Report"":http://www.realtytrac.com/content/foreclosure-market-report/foreclosure-rates--us-foreclosure-trends-april-2012-7194.[IMAGE]
April foreclosure activity also fell 5 percent from the previous month and was down 14 percent from a year ago in April.
Even though certain individual states increased in foreclosure activity, Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac, said a rise in many state and local markets in April was masked at the national level due to sizable decreases in hard-hit states like California, Arizona and Nevada.
""Those three states and several other non-judicial foreclosure states like them, more efficiently processed foreclosures last year, resulting in fewer catch-up foreclosures this year,"" Moore said.
On a yearly basis, foreclosure activity decreased by about 30 percent in California, by 44 percent in Arizona, and by about 67 percent in Nevada.
The growing use of short sales is also helping to lower foreclosure activity.
""Our preliminary first quarter sales data shows that pre-foreclosure sales - typically short sales - are on pace to outnumber sales of bank-owned properties during the quarter in California, Arizona and 10 other states,"" Moore said.
When analyzing foreclosure activity according to judicial processes, non-judicial states declined both yearly and monthly, while judicial states decreased monthly but not yearly.
The 24 non-judicial states and the District of Columbia decreased 7 percent from the previous month and 29 percent from April 2011 when looking at combined foreclosure activity.[COLUMN_BREAK]
Out of those 24 states, 14 and the District of Columbia posted monthly increases in foreclosure activity. Only seven non-judicial states posted annual increases, including Georgia, Tennessee, and Minnesota.
Combined foreclosure activity in the 26 states with a judicial foreclosure process decreased 3 percent from the previous month but was up 15 percent from April 2011. Of those states, activity decreased on a monthly basis in 14 of the judicial states but increased on a yearly basis in 15 of the states.
Foreclosure starts - default notices or scheduled foreclosure auctions - were down 4 percent after three consecutive monthly increases, and down 2 percent from a year ago the same month. A total of 97,665 properties started the foreclosure process for the first time during April.
Despite the overall decrease in foreclosure starts, 26 states still posted monthly increases and 27 states posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure starts.
States with the biggest annual increases in foreclosure starts included New Jersey (180 percent), Utah (179 percent), Indiana (49 percent), Pennsylvania (44 percent), Florida (43 percent), and Michigan (42 percent).
REO activity dropped 7 percent compared to March, and for the 18th month in a row, REO activity decreased on a yearly basis, declining by 26 percent. Out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, REO activity decreased on an annual basis in 37 states.
States with the biggest yearly drop in REO activity included Nevada (71 percent), Arizona (70 percent), Washington (67 percent), California (52 percent), Virginia (47 percent), and Maryland (47 percent).
Overall, lenders foreclosed on 51,415 properties during the month.
Out of the 20 largest metro areas, 11 posted annual increases in foreclosure activity, with Florida cities Tampa (59 percent) and Miami (38 percent) in the lead. Other cities with increases included St. Louis (29 percent), Chicago (26 percent), Philadelphia (24 percent), and Atlanta (21 percent).
The largest metro cities that saw the most dramatic declines in foreclosure activity were Seattle (54 percent), Phoenix (44 percent), San Francisco (34 percent), Washington, D.C. (30 percent), and Riverside-San Bernardino, California (30 percent).