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Foreclosure Rate Tanks

Foreclosure

Despite a quarterly improvement, last month saw a substantial deterioration in the rate of U.S. foreclosures as filings climbed to nearly 1 million this year. Quarterly repossessions were the worst on record.

First-quarter foreclosures were 932,234, RealtyTrac reported today. The figure reflects how many U.S. properties either faced a default notice, scheduled auction or bank repossession. RealtyTrac said its data was collected from more than 2,200 U.S. counties.

Filings fell from 988,438 during the fourth-quarter 2009 but were still higher than 803,489 a year earlier.

California had the most first-quarter foreclosures: 216,263. Florida followed with 153,540, then 55,686 in Arizona, 45,780 in Illinois and 45,732 in Michigan. Just 35 filings were made in Vermont — the fewest of any state.

During just March, filings were made on 367,056 U.S. properties, higher than February’s 308,524 and March 2009’s 341,180.

California’s 93,179 foreclosures last month were higher than any other state. No. 2 Florida had 59,067, followed by Arizona’s 18,856, Georgia’s 17,779 and Michigan’s 17,700. The fewest filings were in Vermont: 12.

The U.S. foreclosure rate during the first quarter was one filing for each 138 households.

March’s foreclosure rate was one foreclosure filed for every 352 U.S. households, deteriorating substantially from one-in-418 during February.

The worst foreclosure rate in the country was in Nevada, where one-in-76 housing units faced a filing during March. California’s one-in-144 rate was next, followed by Arizona’s one-in-144, Florida’s one-in-149 and Utah’s one-in-224.

U.S. real-estate-owned filings were 257,944, leaping from 190,543 in the first-quarter 2009 to “the highest quarterly total we’ve ever seen in our report.”

Last month’s REO’s totaled 91,568, jumping from February’s 78,683 and March 2009’s 71,751.

“The increases were more tilted toward the final stage of foreclosure, with REOs increasing 9 percent on a quarterly basis in the first quarter of 2010 compared to a 13 percent quarterly decrease in REOs in the first quarter of 2009,” RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio explained in the report.

With 16,892 repossessions, California ranked worst in the latest monthly report. Florida’s 8,643 was next, then Arizona’s 6,869, Michigan’s 5,715 and Georgia’s 5,351.

The fewest REOs were recorded in Vermont: 12.

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