US home repossessions hit all-time high

Foreclosed home in California The US housing market is slowly recovering

The number of US homes being repossessed hit an all-time high last month, but is set to start falling, says the body that tracks the figures.

Banks took control of 92,432 properties in April, up 1% from March, and a 45% rise from a year earlier, said RealtyTrac.

While actual repossessions rose, the number of new notices started against struggling homeowners declined.

New repossession cases fell 9% from March and 2% from April 2009.

'Slowing down'

"What we're really seeing is the effect of lenders slowing down the initial notices of default while they are processing what's already in the pipeline," said Rick Sharga, senior vice president at RealtyTrac.

A total of 333,837 new repossession filings were made in April, one for every 387 homes in the US.

"The housing market is still in critical condition but is stable," Mr Sharga added.

The picture differs across the US, with California, Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Nevada being the worst affected.

Taken together, those five states accounted for 52% of all new repossession actions in April.

The next five most impacted states were Arizona, Georgia, Texas, Ohio and Virginia.

Las Vegas, the biggest city in Nevada, was the worst affected large urban area, with one in every 60 homes getting a repossession notice.

However, the US housing market continues to paint a mixed picture.

The main US estate agency organisation, the National Association of Realtors, said on Wednesday that house prices rose in almost 60% of US cities in the first quarter of the year.

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