Home Repossessions Hit 1 Million in 2010

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Banks repossessed 1 million homes in 2010, according to RealtyTrac, which monitors the foreclosure market.

Moreover, foreclosure filings, which include default notices, scheduled auctions and the aforementioned bank repossessions, hit a record high with nearly 2.9 million homes entering some stage of foreclosure last year.

According to RealtyTrac, the numbers could have easily been much higher.

“Total properties receiving foreclosure filings would have easily exceeded 3 million in 2010 had it not been for the fourth quarter drop in foreclosure activity,” James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac said in a  written statement. He attributed the drop in activity to the continuing controversy surrounding foreclosure documentation and procedures—namely robo-signing —that prompted many major lenders to temporarily halt foreclosure proceedings.

Foreclosure filings were reported on 257,747 U.S. properties in December, a decrease of nearly 2% from the previous month and down 26% from December 2009. This represents the biggest annual drop in foreclosure activity since RealtyTrac began publishing its foreclosure report in January 2009 and follows an equally weak November 2010.

In all, 799,064 U.S. properties reported foreclosure filings in the fourth quarter, a 14% decrease from the previous quarter and an 8% decrease from the fourth quarter of 2009. The fourth quarter total was the lowest since 2008.

Realty Trac estimates that approximately 250,000 foreclosure filings were interrupted as a result of the robo-signing controversy.

“Many of the foreclosure proceedings that were stopped in late 2010 will likely be re-started and add to the numbers in early 2011,” Saccacio said.

State by state, California had the most foreclosure filings with a total of 546,669 entering some stage of the process in 2010. Florida posted the nation’s second biggest total last year, with 485,286 properties receiving a foreclosure filing. Arizona followed with 155,878 properties entering foreclosure.

Illinois (151,304) and Michigan (135,874) were two other states accounting for 51% of the nation’s total foreclosure activity in 2010.

Other states’ high foreclosure rates include Georgia (130,966), Texas (118,923), Ohio (108,160), Nevada (106,160) and New Jersey (64,808). Find a full breakdown here.