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Foreclosure Activity Rises, Bank-Owned Up 31%

While foreclosure filings were down 10% in January compared to December, experts are predicting a wave of foreclosures to hit the market in the next few months as more loan modifications fail.

Filings were reported on 315,716 properties in January, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac, Irvine, Calif. REO activity nationwide was down 5% from December but still up a whopping 31% from January 2009. Default notices decreased 12% month-to-month but increased 4% from a year ago. Auctions were down 11% from December and up 15 % a year earlier.

"January foreclosure numbers are exhibiting a pattern very similar to a year ago, a double-digit percentage jump in December foreclosure activity followed by a 10% drop in January," said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac.

"If history repeats itself we will see a surge in the numbers over the next few months as lenders foreclose on delinquent loans where neither the existing loan modification programs or the new short sale and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure alternatives works," said Mr. Saccacio.

Despite a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity of 18%, Nevada's foreclosure rate remained highest among the states. One in every 95 Nevada housing units received a filing, more than four times the national average.

A 4% month-over-month increase in foreclosure activity boosted Arizona's rate to second highest among the states in January.

Foreclosures decreased by double-digit percentages in both California and Florida, and the two states registered nearly identical rates, one in every 187 housing units receiving a filing.

Utah registered the nation's fifth highest foreclosure rate despite a nearly 12% month-over-month decrease in foreclosure activity.

Other states with foreclosure rates among the nation's 10 highest were Idaho, Michigan, Illinois, Oregon and Georgia.

California, Florida and Arizona posted the three highest state totals in terms of properties with filings, and together they accounted for more than 44% of the national total.

Illinois reported 18,120 properties with a foreclosure filing, a 2% increase from December and a 25% increase from January 2009.

Michigan posted the nation's fifth highest total, with 17,574 properties receiving a foreclosure filing, and Texas posted the sixth highest total, with 12,225 properties.

Other states with totals among the 10 highest in the country were Nevada (11,854), Georgia (11,274), Ohio (11,105) and New Jersey (6,146).

Phoenix foreclosure activity increased almost 4% from December, and one in every 102 Phoenix housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month, the second highest foreclosure rate among metropolitan areas with a population of at least 200,000. Phoenix was the only metro area among the top 10 to post a month-over-month increase in foreclosure activity.

RealtyTrac said Las Vegas documented the highest metro foreclosure rate, with one in every 82 housing units receiving a filing, despite a nearly 2% decrease in activity from the December and a nearly 21% decrease in foreclosure activity from January 2009.

Six California cities registered foreclosure rates among the top 10.

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