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Originally published February 10, 2011 at 4:51 PM | Page modified February 10, 2011 at 9:23 PM

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Foreclosure filings fall — but not here

Foreclosure filings still are climbing in Washington state, where the housing bubble burst later. In King County, January filings were up 12 percent from December and 55 percent from January 2010.

The volume of foreclosure filings fell 17 percent in January compared with the same month a year earlier, but the decline was attributed to a backlog that built after widespread criticism forced lenders to review their foreclosure procedures.

Filings rose 1 percent compared with December, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac, which tracks data on foreclosure properties.

"We've now seen three straight months with fewer than 300,000 properties receiving foreclosure filings, following 20 straight months where the total exceeded 300,000," said James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, in a news release.

But don't get too excited. "Unfortunately, this is less a sign of a robust housing recovery and more a sign that lenders have become bogged down in reviewing procedures, resubmitting paperwork and formulating legal arguments related to accusations of improper foreclosure processing," Saccacio said.

In contrast to the national numbers, foreclosure filings still are climbing in Washington, where the housing bubble burst later. In King County, January filings were up 12 percent from December and 55 percent from January 2010.

The year-over-year increase was 41 percent in Snohomish County and 37 percent in Pierce County.

In January, 261,333 homes, or one in every 497 housing units, received a foreclosure filing nationwide, according to RealtyTrac. That figure was one in 614 in King County, one in 361 in Snohomish, and one in 365 in Pierce.

Foreclosure filings include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.

Foreclosure rates were highest in Nevada, Arizona and California. Washington ranked 12th. One in every 93 homes in Nevada received a foreclosure filing in January — a rate that is more than five times the national average.

One in every 175 homes in Arizona received a foreclosure filing in January, and one in every 200 homes received a foreclosure filing in California.

Repossessions — the final step in the foreclosure process — were up significantly in central Puget Sound counties. Lenders took back 743 King County homes last month, 37 percent more than in December and 93 percent more than in January 2010.

The year-over-year increase in repossessions was 83 percent in both Snohomish and Pierce counties, according to RealtyTrac. Those counties also ranked one-two in the number of foreclosure-related filings of all kinds.

Seattle Times business reporter Eric Pryne contributed to this report.

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