The inventory of foreclosed properties is approximately 20% less than a year ago as fewer foreclosures were completed during the last month of 2012, according to data from CoreLogic.

As of December 2012, about 1.2 million homes were in the national foreclosure inventory compared to 1.5 million the prior year. Furthermore, the month-over-month foreclosure inventory figures were also down 4.2%.

Through the end of the year, CoreLogic said 3% of all homes with a mortgage accounted for the foreclosure inventory.

Florida had the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes with 10.1%, followed by New Jersey at 7%, New York had 5.1%, Nevada at 4.7% and Illinois at 4.5%.

“The big improvement indicates we are working toward resolving the backlog of the most distressed assets in the shadow inventory,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

In December, 56,000 foreclosures were completed, a 21% year-over-year drop from 71,000. On a monthly basis, 2,000 less foreclosures were finalized by lenders during December.

Before the housing crisis occurred about six years ago, about 21,000 homes were lost to foreclosure per month between 2000 and 2006.

For the entire year, CoreLogic said 767,000 foreclosures were executed. Meanwhile, since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been approximately 4.1 million completed foreclosures nationwide, the Irvine, Calif.-based data provider revealed.

“The rate of foreclosures continued to trend down, albeit at a slower rate as we exit 2012,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “This trend should continue into 2013 and is another positive signal that the gradual healing process in the housing market is gaining traction.”

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