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Foreclosure filings were reported on 206,900 U.S. properties in February, a 2% decrease from the previous month and an 8% drop from February 2011 - the lowest annual decrease since October 2010, according to new data from RealtyTrac.

According to RealtyTrac, one in every 637 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing last month. Foreclosure activity in the 26 states with a judicial foreclosure process increased 2% from January and was up 24% from February 2011, while activity in the 24 states with a nonjudicial foreclosure process decreased 5% from January and was down 23% from February 2011.

Ten of the nation's 20 largest metro areas by population documented year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity in February, led by the Florida cities of Tampa (a 64% increase) and Miami (a 53% increase). Foreclosure activity in Nevada reached a 58-month low in February, but the state still posted the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the 62nd straight month. One in every 278 Nevada housing units had a foreclosure filing during the month, more than twice the national average.

"February's numbers point to a gradually rising foreclosure tide as some of the barriers that have been holding back foreclosures are removed," says Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac. "Although national foreclosure activity was pushed lower by decreases in a handful of larger states, 21 states posted annual increases in foreclosure activity, the most states with annual increases since November 2010."

Moore adds that the recent $25 billion foreclosure settlement will "help pave the way to a properly functioning foreclosure process by providing a clear roadmap for necessary foreclosures. That should result in more states posting annual increases in the coming months. Not surprisingly, many of the biggest annual increases in February were in states with the more bureaucratic judicial foreclosure process, which resulted in a larger backlog of foreclosures built up over the last 18 months in those states."



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