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Foreclosure filings were reported on 210,941 U.S. properties in January, a 3% increase from the previous month but a 19% drop from January 2011, according to new data from Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac. Last month, one in every 624 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing.

Default notices were filed for the first time on a total of 58,362 U.S. properties in January, unchanged from the previous month but down 22% from January 2011. Default notices increased more than 20% on a year-over-year basis in several states, including Connecticut (23%), Massachusetts (27%), Florida (36%), Maryland (100%) and Pennsylvania (112%). Florida default notices increased on an annual basis for the third straight month, and default notices in Pennsylvania reached a 15-month high.

Foreclosure auctions were scheduled on 86,037 U.S. properties in January, up 1% from December but down 20% from January 2011. Scheduled auctions increased more than 20% on a year-over-year basis in several states, including Minnesota (24%), Massachusetts (57%), South Carolina (79%), Indiana (141%) and Illinois (141%). Minnesota scheduled auctions increased on an annual basis for the third straight month, and scheduled auctions reached a 17-month high in Indiana and a 15-month high in Illinois.

Lenders repossessed a total of 66,542 U.S. properties in January, an 8% increase from December but a 15% decrease from January 2011. Repossession activity increased at least 30% on a year-over-year basis in several states, including Wisconsin (30%), Connecticut (39%), Illinois (52%), Indiana (60%), New Hampshire (62%) and Massachusetts (75%).

"We expect the pattern of increasing foreclosures to continue in the coming months, especially given the finalized mortgage and foreclosure settlement reached in early February between 49 state attorneys general and five of the nation’s largest lenders," says Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac. "The settlement sets forth clear guidelines for lenders and servicers to follow when foreclosing, which should allow them to push through some of the delayed foreclosures from last year.

"Other roadblocks to foreclosure are still in place at the state level, however, including legislation altering the foreclosure process and lawsuits against lenders," Moore adds. "We expect to see somewhat uneven trends in local and regional foreclosure numbers going forward as lenders work through these additional legislative and legal roadblocks."


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