NEW YORK Banks seized fewer U.S. homes in August, though more properties received their first default notices, a report from RealtyTrac said on Thursday. .
Overall foreclosure activity - which includes default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions - was seen on 193,508 properties last month, up 0.8 percent from 191,925 the month before. But that was down more than 15 percent from 228,098 a year earlier.
Banks' repossessions fell 2.4 percent to 52,380 homes, falling just over 19 percent from a year ago, data showed.
Default notices were filed for the first time on 99,405 properties, up 1.3 percent from the month before, but down more than 13 percent from the same time a year ago.
While the data suggest foreclosures are having less of an impact on the national market, the devil is in the state details, said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.
Foreclosure activity increased in 20 states on a year-over-year basis, led by states that use the court system to process foreclosures, including New Jersey and New York.
The increase shows the backlog of foreclosures in the pipeline is continuing to ease as more of them go through the system, said Blomquist.
"Many of these states last year had artificially low foreclosure numbers and now the lenders are finally catching up with some of the delayed foreclosures," said Blomquist.
Illinois ranked highest in state foreclosure rates for the first time since the report began in 2005. One in every 298 homes in Illinois had a foreclosure filing in August for a total of 17,781 properties.
The move to number one was due to a combination of an increase in foreclosure activity in Illinois and a decrease in other hard-hit states, such as California, Blomquist said.
Nevada, a once long-time holder of the top spot, came in fifth.
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)