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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah continues to rank among the highest in the nation for its rate of home defaults and foreclosures.
A report released Thursday by RealtyTrac, based in Irvine, Calif., indicated that one in every 98 Utah households had a foreclosure filing during the first three months of this year.
One in every 98 Utah households had a foreclosure filing during the first three months of 2011.
The U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for the first quarter of 2011 showed foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — declined 15 percent from the previous quarter and dropped 27 percent from the same period last year.
However, some states — including Utah — are still being impacted by the housing crisis.
"It's a serious problem … for the real estate market," said Jim Wood, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Utah. "It's continuing to put pressure on prices."
Utah trailed only Nevada, California and Arizona in the rate of filings per household. But, the percentage of filings is declining for the most part.
The probability that foreclosure activity will begin to increase again as lenders and servicers gradually work their way through the backlog of thousands of foreclosures that have been delayed due to improperly processed paperwork.
–James Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO
Nevada had the highest rate at one in 35 households registering a filing. Nevada filings were down 10.38 percent from the previous quarter, and down 7.21 percent from the same time last year.
Arizona reported one in 60 households with a filing, up just more than 15 percent from the previous quarter, but down more than 17 percent from the first quarter of 2010. Meanwhile, California is still feeling the pain of foreclosure with one in 80 households reporting a filing, a decrease of 3.57 percent from the previous quarter and a 22 percent decline from 12 months ago.
Idaho rounded out the fives states with the highest foreclosure rates with one in 106 households reporting a filing, up 8.38 percent from the previous quarter, but down 3.53 percent from last year's first quarter. Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 in the first quarter were Georgia, Michigan, Florida, Colorado and Illinois.
Nationally, more than 197,000 properties received default notices for the first time in the first quarter, a 17 percent decrease from the previous quarter and a 35 percent decrease from the first quarter of 2010. For March, a total of 73,393 properties received default notices, up 16 percent from February, but still down 37 percent from March 2010.
The number of foreclosures on U.S. properties during the first quarter fell 6 percent from the previous quarter and declined 17 percent from the first quarter of last year.
James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said foreclosure activity has fallen to a three-year low, but the housing market continues to languish.
“Weak demand, declining home prices and the lack of credit availability are weighing heavily on the market, which is still facing the dual threat of a looming shadow inventory of distressed properties," he said, "and the probability that foreclosure activity will begin to increase again as lenders and servicers gradually work their way through the backlog of thousands of foreclosures that have been delayed due to improperly processed paperwork.”
While Wood does not agree entirely with the report's methodology, he said the fact remains that the housing sector is still struggling, and it may be a while before the market fully recovers.
"It's an absolute mess," Wood said. "It's near intractable. (The recovery is) so slow, it's like death by a thousand cuts."