(USA TODAY) Foreclosure activity fell last year to its lowest level in six years across the U.S. but increased in some states where foreclosures tend to take longer.
Almost 1.4 million homes received a foreclosure filing last year, down 26% from 2012 and down 53% from the peak foreclosure year of 2010, market researcher RealtyTrac says.
While many states have seen foreclosure activity ease as distressed homes are either resold or loan delinquencies are cured, 10 states posted an increase in foreclosure activity from 2012.
Those states include Maryland, up 117%; New Jersey, up 44%; New York, up 34% and Connecticut, up 20%.
Some states adopted consumer-protection measures several years ago that slowed the foreclosure process.
Nationwide, the average time to complete a foreclosure in the fourth quarter was a record 564 days, RealtyTrac says.
States where foreclosures took the longest were New York, at 1,029 days; New Jersey, 999 days; and Florida, 944 days, RealtyTrac said.
States with the fastest foreclosure processes were Texas, with the average time to foreclosure at 175 days and Delaware at 176 days.
Overall, 1% of U.S. housing units had at least one foreclosure filing last year. That was down from a peak of 2.2% of units in 2010.
States with the highest foreclosure rates in 2013 were Florida, with 3% of units getting a foreclosure filing; Nevada, 2%; and Illinois, almost 2%.
Since 2006, almost 11 million U.S. homes have entered foreclosure and nearly 6 million have been repossessed by lenders through foreclosure, RealtyTrac says.
Last year, almost 463,000 homes were repossessed by lenders, down 31% from 2012, the firm says.
While still severe in some states, "the shadow caused by the foreclosure crisis is shrinking" as fewer distressed properties enter foreclosure and others are resold, says Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president.
Foreclosure starts, the first phase of the process, were down 33% last year from the year before. Thirteen states saw starts increase from 2012, including Maryland, Arkansas, New Jersey and Connecticut.
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