Foreclosure filings hit 5-year low in Sept.

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U.S. foreclosure filings dropped to a five-year low in September as fewer homes were on track to be seized by lenders.

It was the second consecutive monthly decline in filings, although there remains a sharp divergence along state lines, according to foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc.

On a national level, overall foreclosure filings last month — including home repossessions — fell 7 percent from August and 16 percent from September 2011. There were 180,427 foreclosure filings reported for September, the fewest since July 2007 in the midst the housing market bust.

The number of homes entering the foreclosure process, so-called foreclosure starts, fell to 87,066 in September, down 12 percent from August and 15 percent from a year earlier. It was the second-straight month of declines following three months of increases, Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac reported.

Foreclosure starts since peaked in April 2009 at around 203,000. But the current level is still well above the 34,000 starts recorded in May 2005, before the collapse of the housing market.

Overall foreclosure filings include notices of defaults on mortgages, scheduled auctions and repossessions. Foreclosure starts are either default notices or scheduled auctions, depending on the state’s legal process

Meanwhile, there were 53,569 completed foreclosures last month. That’s up 2 percent from August but down 18 percent from September 2011.

Between January and September, banks completed foreclosures on 505,585 homes. At that pace, the country is on track to end the year with about 675,000 completed foreclosures, down from around 800,000 last year, according to Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac.

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