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Published: Wednesday, 12/19/2007

Foreclosures fall for 1st time since April '06

Foreclosures nationally, and in troubled Ohio and Michigan, declined last month, perhaps indicating that the worst of the housing slump is ending, a new study has found.

Filings from default notices, auction-sale notices, and bank repossessions dropped 10 percent nationally in November, to 201,950, but still 68 percent higher than in November, 2006, according to RealtyTrac Inc., an online tracking firm.

The firm's chief executive, James Saccacio, said the drop "is the first double-digit monthly decrease we've seen since April, 2006. This could indicate that foreclosure activity has topped out for the year, but the true test of whether this ceiling will hold will come at the beginning of next year."

If the downward trend continues, despite economists' fears that more homeowners' mortgage interest rates will rise next year when their adjustable rates vault to higher fixed rates, then 2008 should be better, he said.

Nevada, with 6,694 foreclosures and one for every 152 households, is the hardest-hit state, RealtyTrac said. Florida was next and then Ohio, with one foreclosure for every 307 households.

Ohio's figures dropped 6 percent to 16,308 foreclosure filings, still 99 percent higher than in November, 2006.

Michigan ranked sixth, with 11,464 filings, down 15 percent from October but up 60 percent from a year ago. It had one foreclosure for every 391 households.

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