RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketplace based in Irvine, Calif., has reported that 323,102 properties nationwide entered some stage of foreclosure in the first quarter, a 38% increase from the level recorded in the previous quarter and a 72% year-over-year increase.The company's 2006 Q1 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report is based on the company's database of pre-foreclosure and foreclosure properties, which it says includes more than 600,000 properties in more than 2,500 counties across the country. "The sharp increase in foreclosures in Q1 continues a steady upward trend that we've observed since the beginning of last year," said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac's chief executive officer. "Foreclosures have now increased in four consecutive quarters and are on track to go above 1.2 million in 2006, which would push the nation's annual foreclosure rate to more than 1% of U.S. households." Mr. Saccacio added, however, that foreclosures had declined 13% in March, which he said could indicate that the foreclosure rate is leveling off. The company said Georgia, Colorado, and Indiana had the nation's highest foreclosure rates in the first quarter. RealtyTrac can be found online at http://www.realtytrac.com.

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