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Foreclosure Activity Down for 3rd Month

Irvine, CA-Things are looking up in the housing industry as foreclosure activity is actually down for the third straight month in a row, according to the October 2009 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report from RealtyTrac here. But that doesn't mean the foreclosure tide is turning.

"The fundamental forces driving foreclosure activity in this housing downturn - high-risk mortgages, negative equity and unemployment - continue to loom over any nascent recovery," said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio.

Default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions were reported on 332,292 properties in October, down 3% from September, but still up nearly 19% from a year ago.

Despite a 26% decrease in foreclosure activity from September, Nevada continued to document the nation's highest state foreclosure rate. A total of 13,842 properties received a filing during the month, a 4% decrease from October 2008. Nevada default notices were down 10% from a year ago, and scheduled foreclosure auctions were down 6%. REO was up 8% from October 2008.

A total of 85,420 California properties received a foreclosure, 1% less than September but still nearly 50% above October 2008. Default notices and scheduled foreclosure auctions in California increased 120% and 73% from October 2008, when California foreclosure activity was in the midst of a three-month trough after a law (SB 1137) requiring lenders to give distressed homeowners extra notification before initiating foreclosure.

Florida was third with total of 51,911 properties receiving a filing, down 6% from September and 4% from a year ago. It was the first year-over-year decrease in overall Florida foreclosure activity since July 2006.

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the nation's 10 highest were Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Maryland and Utah. Four states accounted for 52% of the total foreclosure activity in October, California, Florida, Illinois and Michigan.

Illinois posted the third highest state total after California and Florida, with 19,946 properties with a filing, a 56% spike over September and the highest monthly total for Illinois since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in January 2005. The state's foreclosure rate jumped from No. 11 in September to No. 6 in October, and it was the only state with a foreclosure rate in the top 10 to post a monthly increase in foreclosure activity.

A recent state law that gives distressed homeowners an extra grace period to seek counseling to help avoid foreclosure may have created some pent-up foreclosure activity. After the law went into effect in April, Illinois foreclosures decreased for three straight months before climbing again.

Michigan registered the fourth highest state foreclosure activity total despite a nearly 2% decrease from September. A total of 16,468 Michigan properties received a filing, an increase of nearly 45% from October 2008.Other states with totals among the 10 highest in the country were Nevada (13,842), Arizona (13,345), Georgia (12,468), Texas (11,798), Ohio (11,646) and New Jersey (7,435).

Despite a 27% decrease in foreclosures from September, Las Vegas had the highest foreclosure rate among metro areas with a population of at least 200,000.

One in every 68 units had a foreclosure filing in October, over five times the national average. Seven of the top 10 metro foreclosure rates were in California, led by Vallejo-Fairfield at No. 2 and Modesto at No. 3, both with one in every 81 housing units receiving a filing.

Other California cities in the top 10 were Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario at No. 4 (one in 83), Bakersfield at No. 6 (one in 97), and Merced at No. 7.

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