NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Foreclosure activity in the U.S. dropped to its lowest level since November 2008 last month, according to RealtyTrac, which monitors the foreclosure market.

A total of 262,339 properties received foreclosure filings in November, a 21% decrease from October and a 14% decrease from November 2009. Both the month-over-month and year-over-year decreases in foreclosures were the highest drops recorded since RealtyTrac began monitoring the data in January 2005.

Additionally, November was the first time in 20 consecutive months that fewer than 300,000 homeowners received foreclosure filings, but the 262,339 that did represented one out of every 492 U.S. housing units.

RealtyTrac senior vice president Rick Sharga said that while a month-to-month dip in foreclosure activity traditionally occurs at this time of year, the year-over-year decline should be exclusively attributed to the robo-signing controversy and subsequent foreclosure filing freeze.

“Normally in November we see a 7% dip in foreclosure filings month over month,” Sharga said.

Banks halted foreclosure filings in September after the federal government expressed concerns that the paperwork on distressed properties was not being processed correctly. In October, foreclosure activity decreased by 4% thanks to a dramatic reduction in the amount of bank repossessions.

Repossessions continued to decline in November with 67,428 properties reaching the final stage of foreclosure, down 28% from the previous month, and down 12% from November 2009. However, Sharga said that the decrease in activity should not be expected to continue since the housing market has yet to show any signs of significant recovery.

“The numbers will go back up in 2011,” Sharga said. “We have at least one more year of record-setting foreclosure numbers ahead of us.”
Nevada continued to post the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate with one in every 99 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in November.  Utah’s foreclosure rate, meanwhile, leapfrogged to second-highest in November after being the sixth highest in October. One in every 221 Utah housing units received a foreclosure notice during the month.

California held onto third place, despite a nearly 14% decrease in foreclosure activity from the previous month, and a 22% decrease in foreclosure activity from November 2009. Specifically, one in every 233 housing units in California received a foreclosure filing last month.

Other states continuing to post high foreclosure rates include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Idaho, Illinois and Colorado.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at