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NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - More foreclosures of U.S. homes were completed in March even as the number of properties sitting in the foreclosure pipeline fell, a report from data analysis firm CoreLogic showed on Tuesday.
There were 55,000 completed foreclosures last month, up nearly 6 percent from 52,000 in February, according to CoreLogic . Still, that was down more than 16 percent from the 66,000 finished in March of last year.
Prior to the housing market's collapse, there were on average 21,000 foreclosures a month between 2000 and 2006. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been about 4.2 million completed foreclosures.
About 1.1 million homes were in some stage of the foreclosure process, down 1.9 percent from February and a drop of 23 percent from a year ago.
That foreclosure inventory accounts for 2.8 percent of all mortgaged homes, down from 3.5 percent the month before.
The housing market started to recover last year as prices rose, inventories tightened and sales improved.
The year-over-year decline in foreclosures, along with rising home prices, "is another signal of a gradually improving housing market," Anand Nallathambi, chief executive of CoreLogic, said in a statement.
Five states - California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Texas - accounted for almost half of all completed foreclosures.
The top five states with the highest percentage of foreclosure inventory were Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey and New York.