The U.S. housing market saw only 51,000 completed foreclosures in September, a significant decline from 84,000 in September 2012, research firm CoreLogic (CLGX) said.

What's trending now is overall market improvement, with the housing sector mirroring early 2009 levels when it comes to foreclosure activity.

Month-over-month, foreclosures were virtually unchanged, falling a meager 0.7%, from 51,000 in August.

To put the data into perspective, prior to the decline in the housing market in 2007, 21,000 foreclosures were completed per month on average between the years 2000 and 2006.

Meanwhile, as of September 2013, approximately 902,000 homes in the U.S. were in some stage of the foreclosure inventory, compared to 1.4 million last year, a year-over-year drop of 33%.

The inventory as of September 2013 represented 2.3% of all homes with a mortgage, a drop from 3.2% in September 2012.

"Just over 900,000 properties remain in the inventory, two thirds of them in judicial states where the foreclosure process is typically slower. Consequently, the pace of overall improvement in the inventory will slow down and distressed assets will cast a long shadow over housing markets in states with judicial foreclosure," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

Furthermore, the states with highest number of foreclosures for the past 12 months ending in September were Florida, California, Texas, Michigan and Georgia with 115,000, 52,000, 43,000, 40,000 and 39,000, respectively. These five states alone make up half of all completed foreclosures nationally.  

While the five states with the lowest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in September were the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Hawaii, West Virginia and Wyoming.

"The number of seriously delinquent mortgages continues to drop across the country at a rapid rate with every state showing year-over-year declines in foreclosure inventory," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

"We're not out of the woods yet, but these are encouraging signs for a return to a healthier housing market in the U.S," he added.  

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