- - Thursday, July 14, 2011

Foreclosures in the Washington region have fallen 44 percent in the past year, which is great news. From June 2010 to May 2011, about 38,000 area homes were in the foreclosure process, compared to 68,000 during the previous 12 months.

Does this mean fewer homeowners are in trouble? That’s part of it, but remember that in October we learned about foreclosure paperwork problems at several large banks, which caused foreclosure filings to fall sharply while the banks straightened things out.

You can see the effect of that “robo-signing” scandal in today’s charts, which show a significant decline in foreclosure activity after October.

Yet banks are getting their books in order, and there still are many delinquent borrowers who haven’t entered foreclosure. So we aren’t out of the woods yet.

Still, we are better off than many parts of the country. The dire media reports you typically hear about foreclosures usually use nationwide data, which is significantly worse than our local data.

Half of the nation’s foreclosures in May occurred in just five states: California, Florida, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada.

Nevada has had the worst foreclosure rate in the country for more than 50 straight months, according to RealtyTrac.

In May 2011 alone, 1 percent of the homes in Nevada entered foreclosure. In the Washington metro area, just one-tenth of 1 percent of homes entered foreclosure in May.

Arlington County continues to have the lowest percentage of homes entering foreclosure - just 0.5 percent during the 12 months from June 2010 through May 2011.

Prince William County had the highest rate in the metro area during that same period: 3.7 percent, while nearby Spotsylvania County was at 3.6 percent.

Foreclosure activity has dropped the most in Montgomery County, falling 55 percent during the past year.

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