Foreclosures jumped 46 percent in March compared to a year earlier and were up 17 percent compared to February with more than 340,000 properties affected nationwide, according to foreclosure marketer RealtyTrac.

Nearly 804,000 homes received at least one foreclosure-related notice from January through March, up from about 650,000 in the same time period a year earlier, RealtyTrac says.

Many lenders and servers had put a moratorium on foreclosures, waiting for the details of the Obama administration’s foreclosure plan. But now they are back with a vengeance. The end of the moratorium is also driving an increase in the availability of REO properties, according to RealtyTrac.

Nevada, Arizona and California had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate. Other states in the top 10 in the first quarter were Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Idaho, Utah and Oregon.

States with the highest number of actual foreclosures, 60 percent of the total, were California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Illinois. Rounding out the top 10 were Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Texas and Virginia.

One in every 159 homes nationwide was at some stage of foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac.

Source: RealtyTrac (04/09/2009)