Foreclosure filings decline 3% in May


Foreclosure activity in the U.S. continued to level off in May with the number of homes caught up in some stage of the process falling 3% from April, a real estate firm said.

A total of 322,920 properties received some kind of foreclosure filing last month — either default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions — a 3% drop from April and an increase of less than 1% from May 2009, according to RealtyTrac in Irvine.

One in every 400 properties in the country received a filing last month.

While the overall number of U.S. filings was down, and the number of households entering the first stage of the process fell 7% from April, the pace of homes exiting foreclosure and being seized by banks hit a record high in May for the second consecutive month, RealtyTrac said.

The increase in repossessions suggests that lenders are beginning to work through a backlog of properties that developed after many foreclosures were frozen last year by national and regional moratoriums. In addition, the Obama administration pressured lenders to work with defaulting homeowners.

“Lenders appear to be ramping up the pace of completing those forestalled foreclosures,” RealtyTrac Chief Executive James J. Saccacio said.

The Golden State continued to be a hotbed of foreclosure activity, accounting for 22% of the national tally with 72,030 properties receiving a filing in May. That was an increase of 3% in May from April but a drop of 22% from May 2009.

California had the fourth highest rate after Nevada, Arizona and Florida. Just 10 states accounted for 70% of the nation’s foreclosure activity, RealtyTrac said, with Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Utah and Maryland also in the top 10.

Among metropolitan areas, Las Vegas had the highest foreclosure rate, followed by the Northern California cities of Merced and Modesto, though all three cities posted declines in their foreclosure rates last month, RealtyTrac said.