IRVINE, Calif., April 11 (UPI) -- U.S. foreclosure starts rose in March for the second consecutive month, but bank repossessions dropped, online real estate tracking firm RealtyTrac said.
Foreclosure starts in March rose in 23 states and were higher on a 12-month basis in a dozen states, led by New York, where starts rose 200 percent on an annual basis, the firm said.
Foreclosure filings, which includes properties sent default notices, scheduled for auction or repossessed by a bank, were reported on 152,500 properties in the month, down 1 percent from February and down 23 percent from March 2012.
The decline for the month helped push first quarter foreclosure filings to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2007.
In the first quarter, foreclosure filings dropped to 442,117 U.S. properties, a drop of 12 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012 and 23 percent from the first quarter of 2012.
Bank repossessions fell to 43,597 in March, down 3 percent from February and 21 percent from March 2012.
In the first quarter, Florida, Nevada and Illinois post the highest foreclosure rates. In Florida, there were a 85,671 properties with foreclosure filings in the first quarter – one in every 104 housing units. In Nevada, where foreclosure activity rose 13 percent from the fourth quarter, one in every 115 housing units were part of a foreclosure filing.
In Illinois, the foreclosure rate came to one in every 147 housing units in the quarter, the third highest rate in the country despite a drop of 2 percent from the fourth quarter and 5 percent from the first quarter of 2012.