IRVINE, Calif. – March 19, 2015 ­– In RealtyTrac's U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for February 2015, the number of U.S. foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – decreased 4 percent from revised January numbers and 9 percent year-to-year.

"Given that August 2006 was the peak of the housing bubble, this eight-and-a-half-year low in foreclosure activity is a significant milestone and a sign that nationwide foreclosure activity is on track to return to historic norms this year – and is possibly even headed below historic norms given the skinny jeans tight lending standards over the past five years," says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

While Florida has traditionally held a near-the-top spot in foreclosure statistics, a number of RealtyTrac's February findings suggest that things are improving somewhat faster in comparison to other states. In the latest report, the state dropped to No. 3 nationally in foreclosure rate, despite a 35 percent decrease in foreclosure activity from a year ago.

Maryland had the nation's highest foreclosure rate after a 1 percent year-to-year drop, and Nevada came in second with a 12 percent year-to-year increase.

In general, the state's highest metropolitan areas – South Florida, Orlando and Tampa – continued to see higher foreclosure rates, though Southwest Florida and Jacksonville were more moderate. For a county-by-county view, visit RealtyTrac's website and click on the interactive map.

Florida has an average foreclosure rate of 0.18 percent compared to the national average of 0.08 percent.

"In markets where foreclosures were processed more efficiently, we are seeing foreclosure numbers now below pre-crisis levels in some cases," says Blomquist. "Conversely, the cleanup of deferred distress is continuing in markets where a logjam of in-limbo foreclosures is still lingering from the housing crisis – as evidenced by rebounding foreclosure activity in those markets."

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