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County foreclosures up 37 pct. in 2012

McHenry County home foreclosure activity rose 37.82 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year. But it was only .63 percent higher than in 2010.

A report released Thursday by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac shows McHenry County with 5,419 foreclosure filings last year. That represents a rate of one in every 21 housing units, or 4.67 percent of all homes.

Filings include default notices, auction-sale notices and bank repossessions.

Illinois foreclosures rose 32.6 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. The state's foreclosure activity was was 9.72 percent lower than in 2010.

The state had 136,603 foreclosure filings last year. That represents a rate of one in every 39 housing units, or 2.58 percent of all homes. It's the fifth-highest rate in the nation.

Florida had the nation's highest foreclosure rate – one in every 32 housing units. Other states with foreclosure rates worse than Illinois were Nevada, Arizona and Georgia.

Nationally, last year's foreclosure activity fell almost 3 percent from 2011. That translates to 1.8 million U.S. homes, and represents a drop of 36 percent from a peak of 2.9 million homes in 2010.

All told, banks repossessed 671,251 homes last year, down nearly 17 percent from 804,423 the year before.

The trend, along with an annual decline in overall foreclosure activity, suggests that the country's foreclosure woes are easing, at least on a national level.

But half the states experienced higher levels of foreclosure activity last year and many are expected to continue seeing increases this year, RealtyTrac said.

Foreclosure activity rose last year in 25 states, most of them states with a judicial foreclosure system, while it declined in 25 others, most of those being non-judicial foreclosure states, RealtyTrac said.

Among the states with the biggest increases were New Jersey, Florida and Illinois. States with the biggest annual decline in foreclosure activity included Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

Many of the states with a judicial foreclosure process, including Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana, should be caught up with their foreclosure backlog halfway through this year, said Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac.

Other states, such as New York and New Jersey, where the foreclosure process can run an average nearly three years, will continue to play catch-up through most of 2013, he added.

Blomquist expects foreclosure activity will decline in non-judicial foreclosure states through the first half of the year. But laws passed last year in California, Oregon and Nevada aimed at making it more difficult for lenders to foreclose on homeowners may end up deferring foreclosures in those states until later in the year.

"That could mean that, although we are comfortably past the peak of the foreclosure problem nationally, 2013 is likely to be book-ended by two discrete jumps in foreclosure activity," Blomquist said.

While foreclosure activity declined last year, the inventory of homes in some stage of foreclosure or in banks' possession climbed 9 percent to 1.5 million homes, RealtyTrac said.

Florida accounted for the biggest share of foreclosure inventory last year, or 20 percent of the national total.

Blomquist forecasts that between 500,000 and 600,000 homes will end up being repossessed by banks nationally this year, noting that, historically, about half of all homes that enter the foreclosure process end up being taken back by lenders. Last year, 1.1 million homes got started on the path to foreclosure.

– The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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