Foreclosure filings in November were 19 percent below filings in November 2011, the 26th consecutive month that the year-over-year filings decreased.  Filings during the month including default notices, schedules auctions, and bank repossessions were reported on 180,817 U.S. properties, down 9 percent from October.  One in every 728 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month.

These figures were reported by RealtyTrac in its monthly U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.  The Irvine California company tracks three categories of foreclosure filings gathered from county level sources: Notice of Default (NOD), Auctions, and REO.

Foreclosure starts, variously referred to as default notices or notices of sale depending on the state, were filed for the first time on 77,494 properties.  This was down 13 percent from October, 28 percent lower than in the same period in 2011, and at the fewest seen since December 2006.

Banks completed foreclosures on 59,134 properties.  This is an increase of 11 percent from the previous month and 5 percent from one year earlier.  It is also a nine-month high and the first annual increase in bank repossessions since October 2010.

"The drop in overall foreclosure activity in November was caused largely by a 71-month low in foreclosure starts for the month, more evidence that we are past the worst of the foreclosure problem brought about by the housing bubble bursting six years ago," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "But 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. 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."

For the first time RealtyTrac looked at the foreclosure activity of the five largest servicers, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citi and Ally/GMAC.  Among these servicers non-judicial pre-foreclosure activity (NOD, NTS) decreased 41 percent in November compared to a year ago, led by Bank of America with a 63 percent decrease and Citi with a 40 percent decrease. Meanwhile judicial pre-foreclosure activity (LIS, NFS) for the five lenders combined increased 26 percent from a year ago, led by Chase with a 114 percent increase and Wells Fargo with a 37 percent increase.

The national decrease in foreclosure filings on a year-over-year basis was driven by large drops in California, Georgia, Michigan, Texas and Arizona but foreclosure activity increased in 23 states and the District of Columbia and nine states posted 12-month highs in activity in November including some of the largest state like Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.  Florida remained at the top of all states in its rate of foreclosures with one in every 304 units affected.  It was followed by Nevada, Illinois, California, and South Carolina.