|The country's foreclosure problems diminished last month. California had the most foreclosure filings, the worst foreclosure rate and the highest number of repossessions for the second consecutive month despite improvement in each of the three categories. Florida, meanwhile, saw deterioration in each category, and other states are likely to follow suit.
Mortgage servicers made a foreclosure filing on 191,925 U.S. properties last month. Filings include default notices, scheduled auctions and repossessions.
Foreclosures were reduced from the 197,834 previously reported for June. The improvement was even more stark when compared to the 212,764 filings in July 2011.
According to year-to-date data from RealtyTrac, roughly 1,237,726 U.S. properties have had a foreclosure filing, though the total reflects multiple filings on some of the same properties during different months.
"The overall numbers declined on an annual basis for the 22nd straight month, but properties starting the foreclosure process increased on an annual basis for the third straight month," said RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist. "Recent foreclosure activity patterns vary significantly from state to state, often hinging on the level of dysfunction that exists in each state's foreclosure process."
RealtyTrac said it culls its data from 2,200 U.S. counties that account for 90 percent of the country's population.
California maintained its standing as the state with the biggest number of properties to be hit with a filing: 42,081. But Golden State foreclosures fell from 47,490 a month earlier.
No. 2 again was Florida, where filings totaled 25,534 in July. The Sunshine State saw an increase from 22,421 foreclosures in the prior month.
After that were 13,774 fillings in Illinois, 10,861 in Georgia and 9,968 in Texas.
At the bottom of the list was North Dakota, where just three properties faced a foreclosure filing.
One U.S. property was hit with a foreclosure filing for each 686 housing units during July. The foreclosure rate improved from a month earlier, when a filing was made on every 666 properties. In the same month last year, the rate was worse at one-in-611.
The foreclosure rate was highest in California: one filing for each 325 housing units. But the state's rate improved from one-in-288 during the previous month.
"California cities accounted for nine of the 20 highest foreclosure rates among metropolitan areas with a population of 200,000 or higher in July despite year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity in all nine metro areas," RealtyTrac said.
Among the California areas was Stockton, where one in every 153 housing units had a filing in July -- worse than any other area.
After that was Arizona's one-in-346 rate, also better than June when a filing was made on each 303 housing units in the Grand Canyon State.
Florida followed with a one-in-352 rate. Florida deteriorated from one-in-401 in June. The state's poor standing reflects metropolitan areas like Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater -- both among the nation's 10-worst metropolitan statistical areas.
Georgia was next with a rate of one-in-376, then one-in-385 in Illinois.
Nevada -- which had the worst foreclosure rate a year earlier at one-in-115 -- wasn't even among the five-worst this time around with its one-in-415 rate during July.
In North Dakota, just one filing was made for each 105,833 homes -- the best rate in the country.
Servicers completed 53,654 foreclosures during July. Repossessions eased from June, when 54,272 foreclosures were completed. Real-estate-owned filings have fallen back from July 2011, when 67,829 mortgages moved into REO status.
From Jan. 1 through July 31, the number of completed foreclosures was 393,525. REO filings are on pace to come in below 700,000 this year versus more than a million in 2011.
With 7,379 foreclosures completed last month, California dominated all other states. But, like most of the rest of the nation, California's repossessions retreated from June, when 7,472 REO filings were made.
It was the second month in a row that California had the worst standing in all three foreclosure categories -- total foreclosures filed, foreclosure rate and completed foreclosures.
Florida's was close behind with 6,739 REO filings, deteriorating from 5,727 in the previous report. Blomquist explained that Florida was among the states where the process slowed last year, and "foreclosure numbers continue to rebound off those artificially low levels."
No. 3 Michigan had 4,361 completed foreclosures, followed by 4,233 in Texas and 3,718 in Illinois.
The fewest REO filings were in North Dakota: three.
Blomquist warned that in states like Oregon, where a new law that took effect in July gives distressed borrowers the right to request mediation to avoid foreclosure, the foreclosure process could lengthen. In Oregon, foreclosure activity fell 42 percent between June and July to a five-year low.
"But we would expect the Oregon numbers to trend back higher sometime in the next several months based on the pattern we've seen in other states with similar legislation," he said.