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Foreclosure filings were reported on 180,817 U.S. properties - one in every 728 housing units - in November, down 3% from October and down 19% from November 2011, according to new data from Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac. November was the 26th consecutive month with an annual decrease in foreclosure activity.

November's foreclosure starts were down 13% from the previous month and down 28% from a year ago, reaching their lowest level since December 2006.

However, bank repossessions increased 11% from the previous month and were up 5% from November 2011, a nine-month high and the first year-over-year increase since October 2010. Foreclosure activity increased from a year ago in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Nine states posted 12-month highs in foreclosure activity in November, including Florida, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and South Carolina.

Florida posted the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the third month in a row, with one in every 304 housing units with a foreclosure filing in November. Seven of the top 10 highest metro foreclosure rates nationwide were in Florida, led by Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville. The other three metros in the top 10 were in California.

"Foreclosures are continuing to hobble the U.S. housing market as lenders finally seize properties that started the process a year or two ago - and much longer, in some cases," says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "We're likely not completely out of the woods when it comes to foreclosure starts, either, as lenders are still adjusting to new foreclosure ground rules set forth in the National Mortgage Settlement along with various state laws and court rulings."


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