Foreclosure activity in the U.S. continues to drop on an annual basis but the decreases are losing momentum, according to RealtyTrac.
Foreclosure filings -- default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- were reported on 124,419 U.S. homes in January, decreasing 18 percent from a year earlier and representing the 40th consecutive months of annual declines. However, the annual drop was the smallest annual decline since September 2012.
On a monthly basis, foreclosure activity increased eight percent from December, the largest month-over-month increase since May 2012.
"The monthly increase in January foreclosure activity was somewhat expected after a holiday lull, but the sharp annual increases in some states shows that many states are not completely out of the woods when it comes to cleaning up the wreckage of the housing bust," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "The foreclosure rebound pattern is not only showing up in judicial states like New Jersey, where foreclosure activity reached a 40-month high in January, but also some non-judicial states like California, where foreclosure starts jumped 57 percent from a year ago, following 17 consecutive months of annual decreases."
Nationwide foreclosure starts totaled 57,259 in January, up 10 percent from the previous month. The total, however, was 12 percent lower than a year ago, marking the 18th consecutive month of annual foreclosure starts decreases.
The report also shows one in every 1,058 U.S. homes had a foreclosure filing during the month.
Florida had the highest foreclosure rate in the country in January, with one in every 346 homes with a foreclosure filing. Foreclosure activity in Florida dropped 23 percent from January 2013, but increased 19 percent from December.
Nevada had the nation's second-highest foreclosure rate with one in every 533 homes with a foreclosure filing. Scheduled foreclosure auctions in the state reached a 23-month high in January, RealtyTrac reports.
The state with the third-highest foreclosure rate was Maryland, which posted the 19th consecutive month of year-over-year foreclosure activity increase.
More from the report:
Counter to the national trend, January foreclosure starts increased from a year ago in 22 states, including Maryland (up 126 percent), Connecticut (up 82 percent), New Jersey (up 79 percent), California (up 57 percent), and Pennsylvania (up 39 percent).
Scheduled foreclosure auctions (which are also foreclosure starts in some states) increased 13 percent in January compared to the previous month but were still down 8 percent from a year ago -- the 38th consecutive month where U.S. scheduled foreclosure auctions have decreased annually.
Counter to the national trend, scheduled foreclosure auctions increased from a year ago in 27 states, including Oregon (up 326 percent), Connecticut (up 223 percent), Maryland (up 113 percent), New York (up 73 percent), and Nevada (up 73 percent).
Scheduled foreclosure auctions in New York were at the highest monthly level since October 2010 -- a 39-month high -- and scheduled foreclosure auctions in Nevada were at the highest level since February 2012 -- a 23-month high.
There were a total of 30,226 U.S. bank repossessions (REO) in January, down 4 percent from the previous month and down 40 percent from January 2013 to the lowest level since July 2007 -- a 78-month low.
Counter to the national trend, 12 states posted annual increases in REO activity in January, including New York (up 118 percent), Oklahoma (up 93 percent), Connecticut (up 75 percent), New Jersey (up 26 percent), and Maryland (up 11 percent).
States with the highest foreclosure rates in January were Florida, Nevada, Maryland, Illinois, and New Jersey.
Among the nation's 20 most populated metropolitan statistical areas, the highest foreclosure rates were in Miami, Tampa, Chicago, Baltimore and Riverside-San Bernardino in Southern California. Only four of the 20 largest metro areas posted annual increases in foreclosure activity: Baltimore (up 119 percent), New York (up 40 percent), Washington, D.C. (up 38 percent), and Philadelphia (up 14 percent).
Other states with foreclosure rates among the nation's 10 highest in January were Illinois (one in every 603 housing units with a foreclosure filing), New Jersey (one in every 619 housing units), Connecticut (one in every 752 housing units), Delaware (one in every 818 housing units), South Carolina (one in every 850 housing units), Ohio (one in every 885 housing units), and California (one in every 921 housing units).