July 16, 2015 / 4:01 AM / 4 years ago

U.S. foreclosure activity in 1st-half 2015 fell to 10-year low

WASHINGTON, July 16 (Reuters) - Foreclosure activity across the United States dropped to its lowest in a decade during the first half of 2015, according to data released Thursday.

A total of 597,589 properties were at some stage of the foreclosure process from January to June, said RealtyTrac, which tracks housing market trends.

Foreclosure activity, which includes foreclosure notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, were down 13 percent from the second half of last year and down 3 percent from the same period of 2014.

Foreclosure starts fell 4 percent to 304,439 in the first half of this year, the lowest since RealtyTrac started tracking the data in 2006.

“U.S. foreclosure starts have not only returned to pre-housing crisis levels, they have fallen well below those pre-crisis levels and are still searching for a floor,” said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president.

Overall, 19 states, including California, Florida and Arizona saw foreclosure activity below or at the same level as 2006, before the economic crisis hit.

In June alone, 117,055 properties were at some stage in the foreclosure process, down 8 percent from the prior month, but up 9 percent from June 2014.

Lenders repossessed 36,503 homes in June, down 19 percent from May but up 36 percent from a year ago. June was the fourth straight month of annual increases in bank repossessions, which remained far below the peak in September 2013, when lenders reclaimed 102,134 properties.

Foreclosure starts fell 4 percent to 49,105 in June, but were up 4 percent from the same period last year, RealtyTrac said.

Atlantic City, New Jersey’s financially distressed gambling hub, experienced the top metro foreclosure rate in the first half, with a foreclosure filing for 1.70 percent of housing units, or one in every 59. (Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna, additional reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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