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Foreclosure Declines Take on ‘Life of Their Own’ With Another 4% Drop

Foreclosure activity has fallen to its lowest level in over three-and-a-half years, according to ""RealtyTrac"":http://www.realtytrac.com.

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The company released its ""July foreclosure market report"":http://www.realtytrac.com/content/foreclosure-market-report/april-2011-realtytrac-foreclosure-report-video-6755 on Thursday, which showed a 4 percent decline in filings from the previous month and a drop of 35 percent when compared to July 2010.

Last month, foreclosure filings - including default notices, scheduled auctions, and REO bank repossessions - were reported on 212,764 U.S. properties. That figure equates to one in every 611 housing units with a foreclosure filing.

The latest numbers from RealtyTrac mark the 10th straight month the company has recorded year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity and the lowest monthly total since November 2007.

James Saccacio, RealtyTrac's CEO say while the string of declines was initially triggered by the robo-signing controversy back in October 2010, the downward trend in foreclosure activity ""has now taken on a life of its own.""

""It appears that the foreclosure processing delays, combined with the smorgasbord of national and state-level foreclosure prevention efforts - including loan modifications, lender-borrower mediations, and mortgage payment assistance for the unemployed - may be allowing more distressed homeowners to stave off foreclosure,"" Saccacio said.

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""Unfortunately, the falloff in foreclosures is not based on a robust recovery in the housing market but on short-term interventions and delays that will extend the current housing market woes into 2012 and beyond,"" Saccacio continued.

Filings were down in all stages of the foreclosure process -- by single-digits on a month-over-month basis and double-digit decreases in the 20-40 percent range on an annual basis.

RealtyTrac's data show that default notices (NOD, LIS) were filed for the first time on a total of 59,516 U.S. properties in July. Foreclosure auctions (NTS, NFS) were scheduled for 85,419 homes last month.

Lenders repossessed a total of 67,829 properties (REO) in July. While the overall number represented a decline, RealtyTrac said it recorded a spike in REO activity of more than 20 percent in a few states, namely New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Virginia, and Illinois.

Nevada posted the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the 55th straight month, even with a 28 percent decline in filings compared to a year ago.

California claimed the No. 2 spot on RealtyTrac's top-10 list, with Arizona taking the third highest position. Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 include Georgia, Utah, Florida, Michigan, Idaho, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

RealtyTrac reported that it's seeing a spike in foreclosure activity in some especially hard-hit cities.

In Florida, for example, the Naples-Marco Island metro area posted an 83 percent increase in filings from June to July, and the Ocala metro's foreclosure activity jumped 60 percent.

In California, the Stockton metro saw a 57 percent rise in filings month-over-month, and in Vallejo-Fairfield the increase was 33 percent.

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.
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