You’ve probably heard or read it: foreclosure rates have declined for the last quarter and compared to last year’s. But what do those numbers really mean? Below is a straightforward article from one of our title companies. Please feel free to pass this along to your friends and family.

Please note: these statistics are national averagesThe numbers for the Las Vegas area are not typical of the national rate.  Feel free to call our office for up-to-date reports for foreclosures and sales in our local market and we would be happy to send you the latest figures.

The number of foreclosure filings for the second quarter of this year was the lowest reported since the fourth quarter of 2007, according to RealtyTrac’s Midyear 2011 Foreclosure Market Report released Thursday.

All categories of foreclosures showed decreases on both a quarterly and annual basis. Totaling 608,235 for the quarter, foreclosure filings showed an 11 percent decrease from the first quarter of the year and a 32 percent decrease from the second quarter of 2010.

The total number of foreclosure filings for the first half of 2011 was 1,170,402, demonstrating a 25 percent decrease from the previous six months and a 29 percent decrease from the first half of 2010.

According to RealtyTrac, 0.9 percent of all U.S. housing units received at least one foreclosure filing in the first six months of 2011. Monthly foreclosure filings for the month of June totaled 222,740, a 4 percent increase from May and a 29 percent decrease from June 2010.

June marked the ninth consecutive month in which foreclosure activity declined on a year-over-year basis. However, June showed month-over-month increases in default notices, scheduled auctions, and REOs.

While declining foreclosure filings might ignite encouragement, RealtyTrac  CEO James J. Saccacio warns these numbers might not point to improvements in the market. “Unfortunately, with unemployment rates inching back up, consumer confidence weak and home sales and prices continuing to languish, this doesn’t appear to be the case,” Saccacio says.

Saccacio estimates that due to processing and procedural delays, up to 1 million foreclosure actions that should have taken place this year, will be delayed until 2012 or later. “This casts an ominous shadow over the housing market, where recovery is unlikely to happen until the current and forthcoming inventory of distressed properties can be whittled down to a manageable number” Saccacio says.

While Nevada, at 5 percent, ranked highest in the nation in terms of foreclosure rate, California showed the highest total number of filings at 263,500. Arizona ranked second in states with highest foreclosure rates at 2.82 percent, while also ranking third in terms of total foreclosure filings with 77,525 for the first half of the year. Florida had the second-highest number of foreclosure filings at 113,641. Other states ranking in the top 10 for total foreclosure filings included Michigan (61,005), Georgia (60,870), Illinois (60,636), Texas (55,442), Nevada (53,217), Ohio (44,419), and Colorado (25,744).

In addition to Nevada and Arizona, states ranking in the top 10 for foreclosure rates were California (1.96 percent), Utah (1.65 percent), Georgia (1.50 percent), Idaho (1.49 percent), Michigan (1.34 percent), Florida (1.28 percent), Colorado (1.19 percent), and Illinois (1.15 percent).

The average number of days a U.S. property spent in the foreclosure process in the second quarter of 2011 was 318, showing an increase from both the first-quarter average of 298 days, and from the average reported for the second quarter of 2010, 227 days.

The foreclosure process spanned the highest number of days in New York at 966 days on average, followed by New Jersey with 944 days and Florida with 676 days. Foreclosures took the least amount of time in Texas, only 92 days on average, and Virginia, where foreclosures averaged 106 days.

The average number of days from foreclosure to sale for REOs sold in the second quarter of 2011 was 178, a slight increase from the first-quarter average of 176 and from the average in the second quarter of 2010, which was 164 days.

U.S. properties in foreclosure that sold in the second quarter of 2011 averaged 213 days from the start of the foreclosure process to the sale, a decrease from the 228 day average in the first quarter of 2011 and increase from the 195 day average in the second quarter of 2010.