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(MCT)—The number of homes in foreclosure dropped in October from the previous month and was down 9 percent for the year as the housing market showed signs of improvement.

About 1.3 million homes, or 3.2 percent of all U.S. homes, were in any stage of the foreclosure process in October, down from 1.4 million homes in September, according to data released Monday by Irvine, Calif., research firm CoreLogic.

The number of completed foreclosures also dropped in October, to 58,000 from 77,000 the month before, the company said. That marked a 25 percent decrease. Completed foreclosures were down 17 percent from October 2011.

Though the figures are encouraging, they’re a far cry from normal as the housing market tries to recover from the collapse of the subprime bubble. From 2000 through 2006, there was an average of 21,000 completed foreclosures a month.

“A lower foreclosure inventory is a good indicator of improving housing markets,” says CoreLogic Chief Executive Anand Nallathambi. “The downward trend in foreclosure inventories over the past year is yet another signal that a recovery in housing is gaining traction.”

California led the nation in completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in October, with 105,000. It was followed by Florida with 95,000, Michigan with 68,000, Texas with 59,000 and Georgia with 54,000.

Those states accounted for 49 percent of all completed foreclosures in the nation during that period.

The states with the highest percentage of homes in the foreclosure process were Florida with 11. percent of all homes with mortgages in the state, New Jersey with 7.7 percent, New York with 5.3 percent, Illinois with 5 percent and Nevada with 4.8 percent.

©2012 Los Angeles Times
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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