January foreclosures up 57 percent

January foreclosures rose 57 percent compared with the same period last year, but the numbers were termed “relatively meek” by RealtyTrac, the research firm that tracks monthly foreclosure statistics.

The 233,001 foreclosures “do not appear to represent the massive wave of foreclosures that is expected to hit,” the group said. The group noted it is unclear whether the lower-than-expected numbers were due to “increasingly proactive lenders and government intervention” or “if they just represent the first few raindrops of what will prove to be a violent thunderstorm.” The Foreclosure Market Report tracks foreclosure filings -- including default notices, auction sales notices and bank repossessions.

As expected, Nevada, California and Florida topped the list with the highest foreclosure rates. Nevada reported 6,087 properties under foreclosure in January, a 45 percent decrease from the previous month but still a 95 percent increase from January of last year.

California’s January foreclosure rate ranked second highest among the states, and Florida’s January foreclosure rate ranked third highest, according to RealtyTrac. Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 were Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Georgia, Connecticut, Ohio and Michigan.

Some states saw foreclosures fall compared with the year-ago period, including Alabama (down 11.57 percent); Iowa (down 18.28 percent); Nebraska (down 23.8 percent); and Kentucky (down 39.7 percent).

California, Florida and Texas reported the highest total foreclosures, based primarily on the population size of those states. Foreclosure filings were reported on a total of 57,158 properties in California in January, the most of any state. The state’s foreclosure activity was up 7 percent from the previous month and up 120 percent from January 2007.

California and Florida metro areas accounted for eight of the top 10 metro foreclosure rates in January. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., metro area documented the highest January foreclosure rate among the 229 metro areas tracked in the report.

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