|Helped by a temporary moratorium on agency loans, U.S. foreclosure activity declined in January. The rate of filings in Nevada far outpaced any other state, while Oregon has emerged as one the five worst states.
U.S. foreclosure filings were 274,399 last month, RealtyTrac reported today. Filings fell from a revised figure of around 305,000 foreclosures for December --but were higher than 233,001 during January 2008.
RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James J. Saccacio suggested extensive foreclosure prevention efforts by lenders and government agencies may have impacted activity in January. But much of the improvement could be the result of a temporary moratorium on all foreclosure sales that was extended until Jan. 31 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Florida's 45-day moratorium may have also impacted results.
RealtyTrac said its report measures the number of properties with at least one default notice, auction sale notice or repossession. The company's database includes more than 1 million properties from more than 2,200 counties.
Activity was highest last month in California, which had 76,761 filings. Florida followed with 40,770 foreclosures, then Arizona, at 14,674 and Illinois, which had 14,447 filings. No. 5 was Nevada, with 14,444 foreclosures.
The fewest filings -- six -- were reported for Vermont.
Included in January's U.S. total were 66,777 real estate owned transactions.
California saw the most REOs: 16,337. Florida was No. 2 at 5,594, followed by Arizona, at 4,545. Texas had 4,028 REOs, and No. 5 was Nevada, which had 3,848.
With just one REO, South Dakota had the fewest of any state.
One foreclosure was filed on every 466 U.S. households during January, worsening from around one foreclosure for every 535 households a year earlier.
Nevada's rate of one filing for every 76 households was by far the worst rate of any state. California's was next, at a filing for each 173 households, followed by Arizona, at one filing for every 182 households, and Florida, which had one filing for each 214 households. No. 5 was newcomer Oregon -- which had one filing for each 357 households.
Vermont also had the lowest foreclosure rate: one filing for each 51,906 households.