Real Estate

September foreclosures fall

Mortgage delinquencies slip 8% nationwide; Sun Belt, Rust Belt states continue to dominate top foreclosure rates, according to a monthly survey.

By Keisha Lamothe, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- The number of foreclosure filings across the country dropped in September, falling 8 percent from a 32-month high in August, according to a regular monthly survey.

Delinquencies and defaults fell to 223,538 filings, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosure properties.

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RealtyTrac also reported that nationwide numbers were down in all foreclosure categories, which include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions, with 39 states reporting decreased activity.

But the figures were still double the number reported a year ago. "It's important to note that September's total was still the second highest monthly total we've seen since we began issuing our report in January of 2005," James Saccacio, chief executive of RealtyTrac, said in a statement.

"It's too early to tell if September's numbers represent a one-month lull," he said, "or if they could signify that more buyers and investors are getting back in the market and snatching up discounted foreclosure properties, thereby providing a release valve for distressed homeowners and overwhelmed lenders."

The last time foreclosures showed a monthly drop was in June, when activity fell 7 percent.

States in the Sun Belt and the Rust Belt continued to dominate foreclosure filings.

Nevada led the pack in the rate of September filings: one for every 185 households for a total of 5,504. Other hard-hit, Sun Belt states were Florida (one in 248), California (one in 253), Arizona (one in 316), Georgia (one in 316), Colorado (one in 326) and Texas (one in 615).

Florida's foreclosure activity dipped 2 percent from August, but the state's foreclosure rate moved up to the nation's second highest, after placing third last month.

Rust Belt states, or those located in the nation's former industrial centers, that made the top 10 included Michigan (one in 314), Ohio (one in 319), and Indiana (one in 615).

Among the states with the highest foreclosure totals, Illinois was the only state to see a month-to-month increase in foreclosure activity with 8,257 filings, up 33 percent from August.

California claimed six cities among the top 10 metro areas for the number of filings. Merced topped the list with one of every 68 households, followed by Modesto, Stockton, Riverside-San Bernardino, Vallejo-Fairfield, and Sacramento. Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Cape Coral-Fort Meyers and Las Vegas also landed on list of worst hit metro areas.

California also led the nation in the actual number of foreclosures with 51,259 households in some stage of default during the month. Florida was next with 33,354 and Ohio, with 15,709, was third.

Washington D.C. saw the biggest drop in foreclosure activity in the U.S., falling 82 percent from last month.

Although foreclosures showed a broad-based decline, RealtyTrac still expects the number of filings to hit over 2 million this year. Top of page