NEW YORK, June 13 (Reuters) - U.S. home foreclosure filings in May increased from April and were a whopping 48 percent higher than a year earlier, real estate data firm RealtyTrac said on Friday.
Home foreclosure filings in May totaled 261,255, up 7 percent from April, RealtyTrac, an online market of foreclosed properties, said in its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report. The figure is a total of default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions.
“May was the third straight month where we’ve seen a month-to-month increase in foreclosure activity and the 29th straight month we’ve seen a year-over-year increase,” James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement.
In April, home foreclosure filings had risen 4 percent from March.
The surge in foreclosures indicates an increasing number of homeowners are struggling to make mortgage payments amid the worst U.S. housing market downturn since the Great Depression.
RealtyTrac, based in Irvine, California, said the national foreclosure rate in May was one foreclosure filing for every 483 U.S. households.
“The nationwide rate of increase for default notices and foreclosure auction notices slowed in May, with default notices up just 1 percent from the previous month and auction notices down 3 percent from the previous month,” Saccacio said.
“However, bank repossessions continued to surge in May — posting a double-digit percentage increase from the previous month and more than twice the number reported in May 2007 — which pushed the total inventory of bank-owned REOs in our database to more than 700,000,” he said.
REOs, or Real Estate Owned properties are those that have been foreclosed and repurchased by a bank.
Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate in the country, with one foreclosure filing for every 118 households, followed by California and Arizona.
All three states had been among the hottest U.S. housing markets during the boom years from 2000 to 2005.
Default rates and foreclosures have jumped over the past year as the housing market deteriorated. As interest rates on adjustable rate mortgages reset higher, many homeowners who have been unable to sell their homes or refinance existing home loans amid a drop in house prices have been forced into foreclosure.
Nevada had 9,009 foreclosure filings in May, up nearly 24 percent from the previous month and a 72 percent increase from May 2007.
California foreclosure activity in May increased 11 percent from the previous month, helping the state continue to register the nation’s second-highest state foreclosure rate. One in every 183 California households received a foreclosure filing during the month.
California, the most populous U.S. state, reported 71,930 foreclosure filings, the most of any state and up 81 percent from May 2007.
Arizona ranked third highest in the nation, with one foreclosure filing for every 201 households in May. It had 12,959 filings, up nearly 12 percent from April and almost 119 percent higher than a year earlier, RealtyTrac said.
Florida ranked fourth highest in the nation, with one foreclosure filing for every 228 households in May, for a total of 37,364 filings, up nearly 6 percent from April and 72 percent higher than a year earlier, RealtyTrac said. (Reporting by Julie Haviv; Editing by Dan Grebler)