U.S. foreclosure activity
in April jumped 32 percent from a year ago to a record high, and should
mount because temporary freezes on foreclosures ended in March,
RealtyTrac said on Wednesday.

in every 374 households with mortgages got a foreclosure filing in
April, the highest monthly rate since RealtyTrac began tracking it in
January 2005. Filings were reported on 342,038 properties last month.

abundance of distressed properties keeps pressuring home prices,
thwarting a housing recovery that is critical to rejuvenating the
recessionary U.S. economy.

Most of April's filings, which
included notices of default and auctions, were in early stages. Bank
repossessions, known as real-estate owned or REOs, fell on a monthly
and annual basis to the lowest level since March 2008.

suggests that many lenders and servicers are beginning foreclosure
proceedings on delinquent loans that had been delayed by legislative
and industry moratoria, RealtyTrac chief executive James J. Saccacio
said in a statement.

A temporary foreclosure freeze by major banks and government-controlled home funding companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ended before President Barack Obama's massive housing stimulus, unveiled on March 6, could take root.

likely that we'll see a corresponding spike in REOs as these loans move
through the foreclosure process over the next few months, Saccacio

Foreclosure activity rose less than 1 percent in April from
March to post the second straight monthly record. A dip would have been
more typical following the March jump, but the moratoria caused
artificial delays, RealtyTrac said.

It looks like the dam burst
in March and continued in April, Rick Sharga, senior vice president at
RealtyTrac in Irvine, California, said in an interview.

that is at its highest rate in more than a quarter century has left
many borrowers drowning in debt even as new federal housing relief
starts to trickle in.

Fear of losing a job is also draining consumer confidence and the willingness to commit to such a large purchase.

housing affordability is at a record high and the deeply discounted
foreclosure market accounts for more than half of home sales activity.

Home prices have tumbled more than 30 percent from their 2006 peaks, based on Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller indexes.

luring first-time home buyers are new federal tax credits and mortgage
rates at generational lows. Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.81
percent in April, down from 5.92 percent a year earlier, Freddie Mac

RealtyTrac expects at least three or four months of high
foreclosure activity before the wave ebbs, noting a lag of up to six
months between unemployment and foreclosure.

If we continue to
see buying activity increase, if the jobs market continues to improve
and if the price depreciation slows down we could start to see a pretty
significant effect on foreclosure levels before the end of the year,
said Sharga. But those are three pretty big ifs.


where sales and prices soared most during the five-year housing boom
earlier this decade remained the hardest hit. Nevada was the state with
the highest foreclosure rate even though filings fell 18 percent in
April from March and bank repossessions dropped 44 percent.

one of every 68 households with loans getting a filing, more than five
times the national average, total foreclosure activity surged 111
percent from April 2008.

Florida, like Nevada, suffers from a
glut of unsold and often unoccupied properties built on enormous demand
from investors looking to flip the units quickly for large profits.

A 37 percent monthly foreclosure activity jump in April pushed total
filings up 75 percent from a year earlier in Florida. One in every 135
households with loans there got a filing, driven by a spike in default
and auction notices even as bank repossessions fell 7 percent from

California had the third highest state foreclosure
activity rate in April after a 10 percent drop from March, with one in
every 138 housing units getting a filing.

Arizona was in fourth place, followed by Idaho, Utah, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado and Ohio.

10 states with the most properties getting filings accounted for more
than three-quarters of the national total, RealtyTrac said. California
had the highest number of filings, followed by Florida, Nevada and

Las Vegas had the highest foreclosure rate among metro
areas with populations of at least 200,000 even though filings fell 20
percent in April from March. One in every 56 Las Vegas households with
loans got a filing in April, almost seven times the national average.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida and Merced, California were in second and third place.

Considering these severely effected regions, the recovery is going to be a very localized phenomenon, said Sharga.