There was a total of 327,258 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — in the third quarter of 2015, down 5% from the previous quarter but up 3% from the third quarter of 2014, according to RealtyTrac.  

The annual increase in the third quarter marked the second consecutive quarter where U.S. foreclosure activity increased on a year-over-year basis following 19 consecutive quarters of year-over-year decreases.

A total of 133,811 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in the third quarter, down 12% from the previous quarter and down 14% from a year ago to the lowest level since the third quarter of 2005.

There was a total of 123,040 U.S. properties repossessed by the lender (REOs) in the third quarter, down less than 1% from the previous quarter but up 66% from a year ago, the largest year-over-year increase in bank repossessions since RealtyTrac began tracking quarterly foreclosure activity in the first quarter of 2008.

“The widespread rise in foreclosure activity in the third quarter compared to a year ago is the result of two starkly different trends taking place,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “In states such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York, a flood of deferred distress from the last housing crisis is finally spilling over the legislative and legal dams that have held back some foreclosure activity for years.

"That deferred distress often represents properties with deferred maintenance that will sell at more deeply discounted prices, creating a drag on overall home values. On the other hand, in states such as Texas, Michigan and Washington, the third-quarter increases are a sign that the foreclosure market has settled into a normalized pattern close to or even below pre-crisis levels, and in those states the overall housing market should easily absorb the additional foreclosure activity with little impact on home values.”

New Jersey posts the top state foreclosure rate, while Florida drops to second highest.

New Jersey foreclosure activity increased 27% from a year ago, boosting the state’s foreclosure rate to the nation’s highest foreclosure rate: one in every 171 housing units with a foreclosure filing during the quarter — more than twice the national average of one in every 404 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the quarter. New Jersey foreclosure starts were down 28% from a year ago, but scheduled foreclosure auctions increased 61%, and bank repossessions jumped 351%.

Florida foreclosure activity in the third quarter of 2015 decreased 17% from a year ago, but the state still posted the nation’s second highest foreclosure rate: one in every 186 housing units with a foreclosure filing. Florida foreclosure starts decreased 28% from a year ago, and scheduled foreclosure auctions were down 46% year-over-year, but bank repossessions in Florida increased 34% from a year ago in the third quarter.

Nevada foreclosure activity in the third quarter of 2015 increased 13% from a year ago, with the third highest foreclosure rate in the nation — one in every 194 housing units with a foreclosure filing. Nevada foreclosure starts decreased 14% from a year ago, and scheduled auctions were down 14%, but bank repossessions in Nevada increased 255% from a year ago in the third quarter.

Maryland’s foreclosure rate ranked No. 4 among the states despite nearly a 7% year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity in the third quarter, and the Illinois foreclosure rate ranked fifth highest, despite a nearly 5% year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity in the third quarter.

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 highest in the third quarter were South Carolina (one in 311 housing units with a foreclosure filing), New Mexico (one in every 322), Ohio (one in every 334), Georgia (one in every 337) and Indiana (one in every 353).

With one in every 97 housing units with a foreclosure filing in the third quarter, Atlantic City, New Jersey, posted the nation’s highest foreclosure rate among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more.

Five Florida cities posted third quarter foreclosure rates among the 10 highest: Jacksonville, Florida at No. 2 (one in every 153 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Deltona Beach, Florida at No. 3 (one in every 155); Tampa, Florida at No. 4 (one in every 162); Miami, Florida at No. 5 (one in every 162); Lakeland, Florida at No. 7 (one in every 176); and Ocala, Florida at No. 8 (one in every 179).

Trenton, New Jersey posted the nation’s sixth highest metro foreclosure rate: one in every 172 housing units with a foreclosure filing in the third quarter of 2015. Albuquerque, New Mexico (one in every 181) and Las Vegas, Nevada (one in every 187) take the final two top spots.

Eleven of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas posted a year-over-year increase in foreclosure activity in the third quarter of 2015 compared to a year ago: St. Louis, Missouri (up 113%), Boston, Massachusetts (up 55%), Dallas, Texas (up 39%), Detroit, Michigan (up 39%), New York, New York (up 33%), Seattle, Washington (up 14%), Houston, Texas (up 12%), Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota (up 11%), Atlanta, Georgia (up 5%), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (up 1%) and Washington D.C. (up 1%).

“It’s no surprise that foreclosure activity is up from a year ago as banks slowly, but surely, work their way through their pipeline of foreclosed inventory. It’s really nothing more than housekeeping on the part of the banks and not a cause for concern,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. “In fact, given the dire shortage of homes for sale, I actually see an increase in foreclosures as a positive as it will, in a small way, help with meeting the substantial pent-up demand that we have for housing in the Seattle market.”

Among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, those posting the biggest decreases in foreclosure activity in the third quarter of 2015 compared to a year ago were Riverside-San Bernardino in Southern California (down 21%), Los Angeles, California (down 21%), San Diego, California (down 20%) and Miami, Florida (down 16%).

A total of 109,130 U.S. properties had foreclosure filings in September 2015, down less than 1% from the previous month but up 2% from a year ago. U.S. foreclosure activity has increased on a year-over-year basis in six of the last seven months.

Some 43,358 properties started the foreclosure process in September, the lowest level since November 2005.

States bucking the national trend with the biggest increase in foreclosure starts in September compared to a year ago included Louisiana (up 468%), Missouri (up 131%), Virginia (up 70%), Massachusetts (up 60%), and Texas (up 21%).

Lenders repossessed a total of 40,308 properties in September, up 10% from the previous month and up 76% from a year ago. Bank repossessions increased year-over-year for the seventh consecutive month in September.

States with the biggest increase in REOs in September compared to a year ago included Nevada (up 844%), New York (up 580%), New Jersey (up 401%), Georgia (up 186%), and North Carolina (up 183%).