High unemployment helped to drive a new record number of 2.8 million foreclosure filings in 2010, according to foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac. Despite another monthly decline in foreclosure activity in December due to the delays banks have been experiencing since October after being forced to rework their processes, total filings for the year were up nearly 2% compared to 2009's old record. By looking at how states most severely affected by the housing bubble fared, it's pretty clear that the problem last year was more tied to joblessness than to subprime mortgages.
Here's a chart showing annual foreclosure activity by type since 2006:
Auctions rose slightly in 2010, by 2.1%, while default notices fell by 20.1%. But bank repossessions made up for that decline, increasing by 14.4%. Just over one million homes were seized last year; 1.6 million properties went to auction; and nearly 1.2 million default notices were sent.
Surprisingly, some of the usual suspects when it comes to housing market woes, like Nevada, California, Florida, and Arizona, all saw fewer foreclosure filings in 2010 than in 2009. Meanwhile, the big increases occurred in other states like North Carolina, Hawaii, South Carolina, and Washington. Here's a chart showing the states with the largest rises and drops compared to 2009 (for 13 states, RealtyTrac had revised its counting methodology so comparison is not completely accurate):