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Foreclosure Activity Spikes Again in Some States

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- New foreclosure activity picked up again in July, as some lenders in some states continued to adjust to new regulations and work through their backlog of problem loans.

According to the latest report from RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings -- which include notices of default, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- rose 2% in July from the previous month.

The monthly increase was driven by a 6% rise in foreclosure starts and a 4% monthly increase in bank repossessions.

Still, foreclosure activity is down more than 30% year-over-year. And the spike in foreclosure starts and bank repossessions was concentrated in some states, predominantly those that follow a judicial foreclosure process.

Foreclosure starts increased from the previous month in 26 states including Maryland, Oregon, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York.

Bank repossessions saw a monthly jump in 29 states, including Arkansas, Oklahama, Maryland and New York.

But some states that bore the brunt of the housing bust are finally beginning to heal. Arizona, for instance, no longer has the dubious distinction of being in the top 10 states for the most foreclosure activity.

July marked the first time the state was not been among the 10 highest since February 2007. California has not been among the top 10 for the last six months.

Florida, Maryland and Ohio now have the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Nine of the 10 cities with the highest foreclosure rates in July were in Florida.

The disparity in foreclosure activity is one reason why some housing markets are still struggling or not rising as significantly as the others. Those that have worked through the bulk of their foreclosures are now seeing home prices rise at a much faster clip.

Foreclosures still remain significantly elevated, so the crisis is not over for many.

"U.S. foreclosure activity in July is 64 percent below the peak of more than 367,000 properties with foreclosure filings in March 2010, but is still 54 percent above the historical average of 85,000 properties with foreclosure filings per month before the housing bubble burst in late 2006," according to RealtyTrac's Vice President Daren Blomquist. "There are a dozen states, however, where foreclosure activity levels in July were at or below average monthly levels prior to the bubble bursting. Those states include Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Indiana and Michigan, and we expect the number of states in this category to increase in the coming months."

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York.

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