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Foreclosure filings topped 1 million in first half of 2012

RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties, has released its midyear report, which shows a total of 1,045,801 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings – default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions – in the first half of 2012.

This is a 2 percent increase from the previous six months but still down 11 percent from the first half of 2011.

The report also shows that 0.79 percent of all U.S. housing units (one in 126) had at least one foreclosure filing in the first six months of the year.

Other findings from the report:

• First-half foreclosure activity increased from a year ago in 20 states, including Indiana (32 percent), Pennsylvania (24 percent), South Carolina (23 percent), Connecticut (23 percent), Florida (23 percent), and Illinois (22 percent).

• Overall foreclosure activity was down in the second quarter, driven primarily by a drop in bank repossessions, but 311,010 properties started the foreclosure process during the quarter, a 9 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 6 percent increase from the second quarter of 2011 -- the first year-over-year increase in quarterly foreclosure starts since the fourth quarter of 2009.

• Overall foreclosure activity in June decreased on a year-over-year basis for the 21st consecutive month, but foreclosure starts for the month increased annually for the second consecutive month.

"Additional scrutiny on how lenders and servicers process foreclosures, along with aggressive foreclosure prevention efforts by the federal government and several state governments, continue to keep a lid on the foreclosure problem at a national level," said RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore. "Still, foreclosure starts began boiling over in more markets in the first half of the year, particularly in the second quarter, when rising foreclosure starts spread from primarily judicial foreclosure states in the first quarter to more than half of all non-judicial foreclosure states in the second quarter.

"Lenders and servicers are slowly but surely catching up with the backlog of delinquent loans that under normal circumstances would have started the foreclosure process last year, and that catching up is why the average time to complete the foreclosure process started to level off or decrease in some states in the second quarter," Moore added. "The increases in foreclosure starts in the first half of the year will likely translate into more short sales and bank repossessions in the second half of the year and into next year."

Nevada, Arizona, Georgia posted the top state foreclosure rates in first half of 2012.

Illinois' foreclosure rate was among the 10 highest nationwide in the first half of 2012 – 1.40 percent of housing units with foreclosure filing.

According to RealtyTrac's website, www.realtytrac.com, there are 4,692 foreclosure homes in McHenry County. One in every 164 housing units received a foreclosure filing in June 2012.

– Chris Cashman

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