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Maryland posts second-highest foreclosure rate in nation

Maryland’s foreclosure rate remained one of the highest in the nation last month, but there are some signs the situation is starting to improve, according to a new monthly report.

One in every 557 housing units in the state reported a foreclosure filing in February, up about 30 percent from a year ago, second only to Florida and almost double the national average, according to data from information firm RealtyTrac, which tracks the filings.

Baltimore-Towson had the third highest foreclosure rate of the major metro areas behind Tampa-St. Petersburg and Miami-Fort Lauderdale in Florida, with one in every 580 units with a foreclosure filing, the report found.

Officials say Maryland’s foreclosure rate remains high because of a longer legal process and because lenders delayed action while new rules were introduced. Nationwide, the foreclosure rate was at its lowest since December 2006, with foreclosure starts at their lowest level since December 2005, according to RealtyTrac.

RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said Maryland’s slowing year-over-year increase in foreclosure starts suggest the state’s situation could “soon turn a corner.”

Year-over-year, foreclosure starts rose 15 percent — still high, but a smaller jump than in previous months. (In January, foreclosure starts in Maryland spiked 125 percent.) And compared to January, the total number of foreclosure starts dropped to 2,210, down 6 percent, the second month in a row that indicator has fallen.

“We expect this slow, but steady improvement in our foreclosure picture to continue over the coming months as the most seriously delinquent loans continue to work their way through the system,” Raymond Skinner, secretary of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, said in a statement.

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