The rate of foreclosures increased every quarter throughout 2005 -- with the Sunshine State leading the way.
During the fourth quarter, the number of homes nationwide entering some stage of foreclosure increased about 5% from the prior quarter to 234,278, according to the 2005 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report announced Monday by RealtyTrac.
In all of 2005, there were 846,982 new foreclosures properties, and a 25 percent increase from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, the online foreclosure marketplace service reported.
"Overall U.S. foreclosure numbers climbed steadily over the course of the year, with more new foreclosures reported in every quarter," said RealtyTrac Chief Executive James J. Saccacio in the announcement. "This trend appears to be moving the real estate foreclosure market back to its historic levels."
Even so, the annual total of new foreclosures represents less than 1 percent of all U.S. households, Saccacio noted.
"Over the past few years, we've seen historically low mortgage rates, consistently escalating home prices and steady, strong employment," he said. "This has translated into relatively low levels of foreclosure properties -- particularly bank-owned properties. With interest rates rising and an apparent slowing of property valuations in most markets, we'll be watching closely to see if there's a material effect on the number of foreclosures in 2006."
The highest foreclosure rate reportedly belonged to Florida, with 121,843 new foreclosures in 2005 representing 1.67% of properties statewide.
Colorado had the second-highest annual foreclosure rate, as 29,630 new foreclosures last year accounted for 1.62% of its households, the Irvine, Calif.-based company reported.
With 11,536 properties entering a state of foreclosure in the prior year, Utah's rate of 1.62% was the third-highest in the nation, according to the announcement.
Texas' 115,643 annual new foreclosures represented the second highest total in the nation but gave it the fourth-highest rate, 1.44%, RealtyTrac said.
Others with rates within the top 10 included Arizona, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee, the announcement said.
Also, although "their foreclosure rates ranked below the nation's 10 highest, California, Illinois, New York and Michigan were among the 10 states reporting the most new foreclosures in 2005," RealtyTrac noted.