Foreclosures were down one third in the United States last year and, at 1.9 million, were the lowest since 2007, the report issued by RealtyTrac in Irvine, Calif., showed. One in 69 U.S. properties (1.45 percent) were slapped with a foreclosure filing in 2011 -- down from 2.23 percent in 2010, 2.21 in 2009 and 1.84 in 2008, the national foreclosed properties marketing Web site said.
But RealtyTrac officials say the drop does not mean the wave of foreclosures that rose up after the housing bubble collapse has passed, only that it was being held back by paperwork.
"Foreclosures were in full delay mode in 2011, resulting in a dramatic drop in foreclosure activity for the year," said Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "The lack of clarity regarding many of the documentation and legal issues plaguing the foreclosure industry means that we are continuing to see a highly dysfunctional foreclosure process that is inefficiently dealing with delinquent mortgages -- particularly in states with a judicial foreclosure process.
"There were strong signs in the second half of 2011 that lenders are finally beginning to push through some of the delayed foreclosures in select local markets. We expect that trend to continue this year, boosting foreclosure activity for 2012 higher than it was in 2011, though still below the peak of 2010."
Nevada had the nation's highest rate of foreclosure filings in 2011, with 6 percent of the state's housing units getting at least one foreclosure filing. It was the fifth year in a row Nevada has topped the 50 states.
Arizona, California, Georgia and Utah were the next-highest, followed by Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Colorado and Idaho.
The full report can be accessed at: http://www.realtytrac.com/content/foreclosure-market-report/2011-year-end-foreclosure-market-report-6984.