Foreclosure activity plummeted 17.8% year-over-year in January with only 61,000 foreclosures completed last month, down from 75,000 a year earlier, CoreLogic reported.

The Irvine, Calif.-based real estate analytics firm also noted that foreclosures from December to January did mange to edge up 10.5% from 56,000 in December.

Both months are still well above the normal foreclosure rate of 21,000 foreclosures per month, an average established in the six-year period running from 2000 through 2006.

The U.S. currently has 1.2 million homes in some stage of foreclosure, down from 1.5 million in January of 2012.

“The backlog of distressed assets continues to fade as the foreclosure inventory has fallen to a level not seen since mid-2009, with less than 3% of all mortgages in foreclosure,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The improvement is widespread as only six states and 13 of the largest 100 metro areas had an increase in the foreclosure rate year over year.”

The five states with the most completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending January 2013 included California with 96,000 foreclosures; Michigan (74,000); Texas (59,000); and Georgia (50,000). All of these states made up nearly half of all completed foreclosures.

The states with the fewest completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in January included the District of Columbia, Hawaii,  North Dakota, Maine and West Virginia.

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