IRVINE, Calif., May 17 (UPI) -- U.S. properties in foreclosure fell to their lowest total in April since before the recession, a private online marketplace for distressed properties said.
RealtyTrac said one in every 698 U.S. housing units was involved in foreclosures in April, a 5 percent decrease from March and a 14 percent decrease from April 2011.
In the month, 188,789 U.S. properties were involved in foreclosure proceedings, which include homes issued default notices, scheduled for auction or seized by the lender.
That was the lowest total since July 2007, the firm said.
"Rising foreclosure activity in many state and local markets … was masked at the national level by sizable decreases in hard-hit foreclosure states like California, Arizona and Nevada," said Brandon Moore, RealtyTrac's chief executive officer.
Echoing data assembled by the Mortgage Bankers Association, RealtyTrac noted a sharp delineation between states that mandate foreclosures undergo a court review and states that keep foreclosures out of the courtroom.
Although foreclosures declined overall, 26 states saw foreclosure starts rise from March to April and 27 states saw foreclosure activity rise from April 2011.
In New Jersey, foreclosure starts rose 180 percent. In Utah, they rose 179 percent. This was followed by Indiana, Pennsylvania and Florida with increases of 49 percent, 44 percent and 43 percent, respectively.
Bank repossessions across the country fell 7 percent from March, declining for the third consecutive month.
For the 18th consecutive month lenders completed fewer foreclosures than in the previous month. In April, 51,415 foreclosures were completed, a drop of 26 percent from April 2012.