Foreclosure filings on housing units across the US, including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions, rose less than 1% from March to 342,038 and are up 32% from the year-ago period. One in every 374 US housing units received a filing in April, the highest monthly rate seen by online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac, which has tracked defaults, auctions and bank-owned properties in 2,200 US cities since January '05. “Much of this activity is at the initial stages of foreclosure – the default and auction stages – while bank repossessions, or REOs, were down on a monthly and annual basis to their lowest level since March 2008," RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio says in a media statement today. "This suggests that many lenders and servicers are beginning foreclosure proceedings on delinquent loans that had been delayed by legislative and industry moratoria." "It’s likely that we’ll see a corresponding spike in REOs as these loans move through the foreclosure process over the next few months,” Saccacio adds. Nevada once again claimed the highest state foreclosure rate in the month with one in every 68 housing units in the state receiving a filing, or more than five times the national average. Meanwhile, a 37% increase in Florida's foreclosure activity from the previous month boosted the state's standing to second-highest with one in every 135 Florida housing units receiving a filing in April. Foreclosure activity eased 10% in California, which posted the third-highest rate with a new filing on one in every 138 housing units in April. Arizona and Idaho filled out the top five highest rates, with a respective one in every 164 and one in every 255 housing units receiving a filing in the month. Las Vegas alone posted the highest metro foreclosure rate, with filings reported on 14,073 properties -- or one in every 56 Las Vegas housing units -- in April. Despite a 20% decrease in filings from March, Las Vegas still saw a foreclosure rate nearly seven times the national average. Areas hardest-hit with foreclosure auctions, although negatively associated with evicted borrowers and declining home prices -- as so-called "distressed" sales traditionally fetch 20% less than non-foreclosures -- also tend to show the first signs of recovery, National Association of Realtors economist Jed Smith tells HousingWire for the upcoming June magazine issue. "We’ve seen some phenomenal strength in California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida recently, largely because prices in those markets got bid down to such a point that the first-time home buyer and probably many others have seen a real opportunity there...to come back into the market," he says. HousingWire explores REO auctions, their effects on housing prices and their benefits to investors in the upcoming July magazine issue. Write to Diana Golobay.