The number, however, is down 11 percent from the first half of last year.
RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties, said foreclosure activity is up from a year ago in 20 states, including Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois.
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. That is a 9 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 6 percent increase from the second quarter of 2011.
"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 Brandon Moore, chief executive of RealtyTrac. "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.
Moore said the increase in foreclosure starts will likely translate into more short sales and bank repossessions in the second half of the year.
Nevada posted the nation's highest foreclosure rate in the first half of 2012 with 1.76 percent of all housing units with a foreclosure filing.
Arizona foreclosure activity in the first half of 2012 decreased 37 percent from the same time period in 2011, but the state still documented the nation's second highest foreclosure rate at 1.73 percent.
An 18 percent year-over-year increase in California foreclosure starts in June helped boost that state's foreclosure rate to the highest nationwide for the month.
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