Foreclosure rates fall, Ga. still 4th in U.S.

The rate of foreclosure actions in Georgia fell last year compared to 2011 as it did across the country, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac. But the state remains among the nation’s hardest hit.

Georgia ranked fourth in the nation in 2012 in foreclosure rate as it did a year earlier. One in every 39 homes in the state received a foreclosure filing last year, a slight improvement from one in every 37 homes in 2011.

Florida, Nevada and Arizona were the top three states for foreclosure rates in the nation, while Illinois was fifth.

Nationwide, the rate of default notices, scheduled auctions and repossessions declined 3 percent to 2.3 million.

Banks are conducting more loan assistance programs and short sales, contributing to some of the decline. The economy also is improving.

Though the housing market is regaining strength, there are still issues. RealtyTrac said 10.9 million homeowners across the U.S. owed at least 25 percent more than their houses were worth. That represents more than a quarter of all homes with a mortgage.

Recent legal uncertainty over methods that mortgage companies used to foreclose and pending legal action in Georgia courts could be contributing to a slower pace of forecloses in the state, RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said in an interview last week. That could create a backlog of actions going forward, he said, indicating the state could see an increase in actions later in 2013.

“The market is still dealing with the wreckage of the housing bust,” Blomquist said.

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