By Robert Daniel, MarketWatch
TEL AVIV (MarketWatch) -- U.S. properties subject to foreclosure action in the first quarter rose 16% from the year-earlier quarter and 7% from fourth-quarter 2009, consultant RealtyTrac reported Thursday.
Real estate owned by lenders is at the highest level RealtyTrac has seen since it began reporting the data, Chief Executive James J. Saccacio said in a statement.
The report "may be further evidence that lenders are starting to make a dent in the backlog of distressed inventory that has built up over the last year as foreclosure-prevention programs and processing delays slowed down the normal foreclosure timeline," he said.
Foreclosure filings -- default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- were reported on more than 932,000 properties in the quarter. That means one in every 138 U.S. housing units received such a filing, the Irvine Calif., firm said.
In March, 367,000 properties were subject to foreclosure filings, up 8% from March 2009 and up 19% from February 2010.
Nevada for 13 quarters has been the state with the highest foreclosure rate, RealtyTrac reported. In first-quarter 2010, 1 in every 33 housing units in the state was subject to a foreclosure filing.
That's more than four times the national average and is up nearly 15% from fourth-quarter 2009. More than 34,500 properties in the state received a filing in the first quarter, down 16% from first-quarter 2009.
Arizona was second with 1 in every 49 properties subject to a filing in Florida was third with one in every 57.
Ten states account for more than 70% of the foreclosure filings in the first quarter, RealtyTrac reported.
In absolute numbers, California's more than 216,000 properties subject to a foreclosure notice accounted for 23% of the nation's total. Florida was second with more than 153,500 and Arizona was third, with nearly 55,700.
Robert Daniel is MarketWatch's Middle East bureau chief, based in Tel Aviv.