U.S. Foreclosure Filings Rose in January as Nevada Continues to Lead the Pack

U.S. foreclosure filings rose 1% in January 2011 from December 2010, according to real estate trends research firm RealtyTrac -- a sign that the housing crisis has begun to extend into 2011.

Standard & Poor's recently forecast that home prices could fall as much as 7% to 10% more this year. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz recently stated foreclosures could reach 2 million in the U.S. this year. "U.S. foreclosures are continuing apace," he said. "A quarter of U.S. homes are underwater."

RealtyTrac wrote in its monthly report that foreclosures "were reported on 261,333 U.S. properties in January." While this is an increase over December, it is a 17% decrease from a year ago. The firm's methodology describes foreclosure filings as default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions. Based on this definition "one in every 497 housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month."

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"We've now seen three straight months with fewer than 300,000 properties receiving foreclosure filings, following 20 straight months where the total exceeded 300,000," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "Unfortunately this is less a sign of a robust housing recovery and more a sign that lenders have become bogged down in reviewing procedures, resubmitting paperwork and formulating legal arguments related to accusations of improper foreclosure processing."

The list of most troubled states has stayed fairly constant throughout the housing crisis. Nevada bank repossessions rose 16% from the December. "One in every 93 Nevada housing units received a foreclosure filing in January -- more than five times the national average," RealtyTrac reported.

Arizona, California, Michigan, and Florida rounded out the top five states for foreclosure activity.