Data from CoreLogic shows 54,000 homes were lost to foreclosure in February of this year, a 7 percent decline from January’s downwardly revised 58,000.

The data provider reported a steeper 19 percent year-over-year decrease for completed foreclosures.

“February’s 54,000 completed foreclosures is the lowest level nationally since September 2007, with most major metropolitan areas experiencing improvements,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

Although completed foreclosures are lower than their year- and month-ago figures, the number is still elevated compared to pre-crisis levels when completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 between 2000 and 2006.

CoreLogic also found a declining trend in foreclosure inventory, or homes in the foreclosure process.

According to the data provider, foreclosure inventory fell for the 16th straight month after accounting for 1.2 million homes in February, down 21 percent from the 1.5 million homes a year ago. From January to February, inventory decreased 1.8 percent.

Nationwide, foreclosure inventory accounted for 2.8 percent of homes with a mortgage, down from 3.5 percent a year ago.

The state that led with the highest number of foreclosures over a 12-month period ending in February was Florida, where 85,000 homes were lost to the process. Rounding out the top five were California (90,000), Michigan (73,000), Texas (57,000) and Georgia (49,000).

Florida also had the highest percentage of homes in foreclosure inventory, at 9.9 percent.

New Jersey ranked second at 7.2 percent, while New York (5.0 percent), Nevada (4.6 percent) and Illinois (4.5 percent)

Among the largest metro areas, the top five for completed foreclosures during the same time period were Atlanta (31,522), Phoenix (25,729), Chicago (20,113), Riverside (18,618), and Houston (15,301). 

by Esther Cho