One out of every 78 homes in this country received a foreclosure notice during the first six months of this year. Amazingly, that’s actually the good news.

According to RealtyTrak, a firm that monitors the foreclosure market, nearly 1.7 million properties in the U.S. received some foreclosure filing in the first half of this year, which is 5% less than the number of properties foreclosed on during the same period a year ago. Similarly, the number of foreclosure filings in June was 3% less than the month before, which means the foreclosure crisis may finally be easing up.

Yet, this progress is overshadowed by another number in RealtyTrak’s report. In the second quarter of this year, the number of homes that were repossessed shot up by 5% to 269,000 as banks began to move more swiftly through their backlog of foreclosed properties. In total, more than 1 million homes are expected to be repossessed by the end of this year.

“The second quarter was a tale of two trends,” James J. Saccacio, the chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a press release. “The pace of properties entering foreclosure slowed as lenders pre-empted or delayed foreclosure proceedings on delinquent properties with more aggressive short sale and loan modification initiatives. Meanwhile the pace of properties completing the foreclosure process through bank repossession quickened as lenders cleared out a backlog of distressed inventory delayed by foreclosure prevention efforts in 2009.

So unfortunately, it may be a while longer before we’re out of the woods. RealtyTrak estimates that the total number of properties that receive foreclosure notices will hit 3 million by the end of this year. And as we’ve reported before, there could be 10 million or more homes in danger of foreclosure over the next two years. If that’s not bad enough, according to a recent housing index, the real estate market might not rebound completely for another 15 years.

If you have received a foreclosure notice or are concerned that you might, you should contact your lender immediately to work on restructuring your loan. While it may be tempting to think of lenders as your enemy, the truth is that they generally don’t want to see your home enter foreclosure as it is a costly process for them to go through. Find out more about what steps you should take to avoid foreclosure.

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