The national foreclosure rate increased 1 percent in May from April and increased 16 percent from May 2014, reaching a 19-month high, according to RealtyTrac, a housing-data company. One in every 1,041 housing units in the U.S. had a foreclosure filing in May, which includes notices of default, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions. For the third month in a row, Florida had the highest foreclosure rate of any state, including the District of Columbia.
The rising foreclosure rate was driven by annual increases in bank repossessions, as states continue to work through a glut of distressed properties.
"May foreclosure numbers are a classic good news-bad news scenario, with the number of homeowners starting the foreclosure process stabilizing at pre-housing crisis levels but the number of homeowners actually losing their homes to foreclosure still well above pre-crisis levels and on the rise," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a news release about the data. "Lenders and courts are pushing through stubborn foreclosure cases that have been languishing in foreclosure limbo for years as options to prevent foreclosure are exhausted or left untapped."
Foreclosure starts (the first foreclosure filing on a property) increased 4 percent from last year but are below the pre-crisis levels seen in 2005 and 2006. Only 13 states had foreclosure rates higher than the national average, many of which are in the South and Midwest.
Here are the 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates in May.
10. South Carolina
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 987 housing units in foreclosure
Even as foreclosure activity fell in South Carolina, it moved up in the rankings from last month, from 11th to 10th. In April, one in every 917 properties in the state had a foreclosure filing.
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 963 housing units in foreclosure
The foreclosure rate was consistent from April to May, but with shifts in other states, Indiana went from 12th in April to 9th in this most recent report. Foreclosure completions increased about 28 percent from May 2014 to May 2015.
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 765 housing units in foreclosure
The Illinois foreclosure rate dropped slightly from April, reflected in the move from the 6th- to the 8th-highest foreclosure rate in the nation. Foreclosure completions dropped about 29 percent from April to May.
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 763 housing units in foreclosure
It seems Ohio is picking up the pace in moving through its foreclosure inventory, because foreclosure completions increased about 25 percent from April and 114 percent from May 2014. In April, the Ohio foreclosure rate was one in every 847 properties.
6. New Mexico
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 726 housing units in foreclosure
RealtyTrac noted some changes to its data collection in some states, including New Mexico. The state ranked 41st with last month's recorded rate at one in every 2,542 properties in foreclosure. The sharp increase may be attributed to methodology changes, rather than a flood of foreclosures, RealtyTrac notes.
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 590 housing units in foreclosure
Nevada fell a few spots from April, when the foreclosure rate was one in every 555. Still, the May figures were up about 22 percent from 2014, driven by an increase in foreclosure completions. Foreclosure starts fell from April and compared to last May.
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 531 housing units in foreclosure
In the previous month, Maryland was No. 3, even though the foreclosure rate was lower than in May, at one in every 594. Changes in other states' foreclosure inventories bumped Maryland down, despite the consistently high foreclosure rate.
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 485 housing units in foreclosure
Tennessee is also among the states in which RealtyTrac updated its data-collection methods. The data shows Tennessee's foreclosure rate increased about 658 percent from May 2014, though RealtyTrac says the most recent data is more accurate. In April, Tennessee had the fifth highest foreclosure rate.
2. New Jersey
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 483 housing units in foreclosure
After a few months out of the top two spots, New Jersey is back on the high end of the nation's foreclosure activity. April's foreclosure rate was one in 594 -- a lot of new foreclosure filings were reported in May.
May 2015 foreclosure rate: 1 in every 409 housing units in foreclosure
Foreclosure starts fell in May, but an increase in completed foreclosures outweighed that fact and kept Florida atop the foreclosure-rate standings for a third month in a row.
Hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the country continue to struggle to make mortgage payments, thrusting them into a long and often complicated process of fighting or completing a foreclosure. They can suffer credit damage as a result, jeopardizing their ability to access affordable credit or rent an apartment in the future, if need be.
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