For the fourth straight month foreclosure activity nationwide has declined according to information released by RealtyTrac.  Despite this promising news, RealtyTrac also reported that the rate of defaults is still well above that recorded one year ago.

Foreclosure filings which include default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions were reported on 306,627 properties during November.  This is a decrease of nearly 8 percent from the October figures and shows that one in every 417 U.S. households is affected.  This number is 18 percent higher than that reported in November, 2008.

James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, an Irvine, California company that bills itself as the nation's leading online marketplace of foreclosure properties, said, "November was the fourth straight month that U.S. foreclosure activity has declined after hitting an all-time high for our report in July, and November foreclosure activity was at the lowest level we've seen since February. Loan modifications and other foreclosure prevention efforts, along with the recently extended and expanded homebuyer tax credit, are keeping a lid on the most visible symptoms of the nation's ailing housing market - foreclosures and home value depreciation. This is providing a welcome respite for the real estate industry, but a full recovery will only come when unemployment recedes to normal, healthy levels and when availability of credit reaches a more rational balance between the extremes of the past few years."

Even though foreclosure activity there declined by 33 percent in one month, Nevada continued to lead the nation with 9,295 or one in every 119 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in November.  This is 3.5 times the national average.  Nearly 53,000 Florida residents (one in every 165 homeowners) received foreclosure notices, an increase of nearly 2 percent since October while California slipped from second to third place nationwide with 74,000 notices or one in every 180 households a decrease of 13.5 percent since October. Arizona was the fourth most active state, reversing direction after three straight months of declines.  Its foreclosure rate increased almost 8 percent in November with one in every 186 housing units receiving a notice or a total of over 14,000 foreclosure filings.

The lowest foreclosure rates were recorded in North Dakota, West Virginia, and Vermont.

California, Florida, Illinois, and Michigan together accounted for more than half of the total foreclosure activity in the nation for the second straight month although both Michigan and Illinois saw declines during the month of nearly 3 percent and 18 percent respectively.

All stages of foreclosure activity slowed nationwide.  Default notices were down 8 percent from the previous month but still up 22 percent from November 2008.   Scheduled foreclosure auctions declined 12 percent from the previous month but were still up 32 percent from November 2008, and bank repossessions were unchanged from October and down 2 percent from November 2008.

The RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report provides a count of the total number of properties with at least one foreclosure filing entered into the RealtyTrac database during the month, broken out by type of filing by state, county and metropolitan statistical area. Some foreclosure filings entered into the database during the month may have been recorded in previous months. Data is collected from more than 2,200 counties nationwide, and those counties account for more than 90 percent of the U.S. population.  The report includes all documents filed in the three phases of foreclosure, default, auction, and real estate owned. If more than one foreclosure document is received for a property during the month, only the most recent filing is counted in the report.