WASHINGTON The number of U.S. homes taken over by banks fell 9 percent in October as foreclosure processing was stalled by questionable paperwork, real estate data company RealtyTrac said on Thursday.
Banks foreclosed on 93,236 properties in October, sharply lower than September's record high above 100,000 homes, RealtyTrac said. There were 332,172 total foreclosure filings in October, 4 percent lower than September and about the same level as a year earlier.
"The numbers probably would have been higher except for the fallout from the recent 'robo-signing' controversy," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. Saccacio said he expects further declines in November.
The firm said Nevada, Florida and Arizona continued to post the highest foreclosure rates in the country.
And just five states -- California, Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Arizona -- accounted for more than half of all foreclosure activity.
One in every 79 housing units in Nevada received a foreclosure filing in October, five times more than the national average and close to double Florida's one in every 155 unit rate.
Despite the lull, the year is still expected to post a record levels of foreclosure activity.
"Our guess at this point is that we'll probably see another month of some delays," said Rick Sharga, a vice president at the firm.
"We will probably still end this year with probably 1.2 million bank repossessions which would be a record," Sharga told Reuters in an interview, noting that there are close to a million bank-owned properties on the banks' books while less than a third of those are actively trying to be sold.
In 2005, before the housing bust, banks took over just about 100,000 houses, according to the Irvine, California-based company.
(Reporting by Corbett B. Daly in Washington and Al Yoon in New York;)