The number of homes that received some type of foreclosure notice in May actually decreased 6 percent from April, a bit of good news for a battered housing market.
But before anybody celebrates, the number of filings -- on 321,480 U.S. homes -- was still up 18 percent from the same time last year, according to RealtyTrac, an online company that tracks foreclosure properties.
May also brought the third-highest monthly number of foreclosure filings in the company's record and the third month in a row when the number of homes receiving foreclosure notices exceeded 300,000.
Nevada still has the highest foreclosure rates with one in every 64 homes receiving some notice of foreclosure in May. California came in second with one in every 144 homes receiving a foreclosure notice.
Florida was third with one in every 148 housing units getting a notice; Arizona fourth at one in every 158 homes, followed by Utah at one in 316 homes.
Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the nation's 10 highest were Michigan, Georgia, Colorado, Idaho and Ohio.
The report also said that one in every 398 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in May.
"While defaults and scheduled foreclosure auctions were both down from the previous month, bank repossessions, or REOs, were up 2 percent thanks largely to substantial increases in several states, including Michigan, Arizona, Washington, Nevada, Oregon and New York," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "We expect REO activity to spike in the coming months as foreclosure delays and moratoria implemented by various state laws come to an end."
The top 10 states where homeowners received foreclosure notices accounted for 77 percent of all the filings in May.
The top metro areas for foreclosures also were all in California, Florida and Nevada.
Foreclosure filings were reported on 14,681 Las Vegas properties in May, one in every 54 housing units -- more than seven times the national average and the highest foreclosure rate among metro areas with a population of at least 200,000. The city's foreclosure activity increased 4 percent from the previous month and 78 percent from May 2008.
California and Florida accounted for the remainder of top 10 metro foreclosure rates.
California cities at the top of the foreclosure list were: Stockton, Modesto, Riverside-San Bernardino, Merced, Bakersfield and Vallejo-Fairfield.
The top areas in Florida were: Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Orlando-Kissimmee and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach.
The RealtyTrac U.S. Foreclosure Market Report provides a count of the total number of properties with at least one foreclosure filing reported during the month. Data is collected from more than 2,200 counties nationwide, and those counties account for more than 90 percent of the U.S. population.
RealtyTrac's report incorporates documents filed in all three phases of foreclosure: default, auction and real estate owned, or REO properties.
If more than one foreclosure document is filed against a property during the month or quarter, only the most recent filing is counted in the report.
The company says it checks if the same type of document was filed against a property in a previous month or quarter in order to avoid double counting.