Foreclosure activity continues to fall, with new foreclosure notifications in May hitting their lowest level since late 2005.

Lenders initiated foreclosures on 49,240 homes in May, according to figures released today by RealtyTrac, the fewest in eight and a half years and nearly one-third less than in May 2013. Overall activity - including foreclosure starts, scheduled auctions and repossessions - fell to their lowest level since December 2006 and down more than one-quarter from the same time one year ago.

Despite the overall decline nationwide, certain regions continue to struggle. Twelve states showed an annual increase in foreclosure starts, led by Massachusetts, which posted a whopping 178 percent increase over the past 12 months, and Indiana, which showed a 67 percent increase.

Delaware, meanwhile, has seen foreclosure starts rise in 12 of the past 15 months while New Jersey has seen increases in 25 of the past 27 months.

Slower process linked to higher foreclosure rates

Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, suggested that some states are simply taking longer to work through their backlog of foreclosures left over from the recession.

"It's not surprising that some of the states with the longest foreclosure timelines are those with markets still dealing with increasing foreclosure activity even as the country as a whole continues to hit new lows," Blomquist said. "On the other hand, the increase in bank repossessions in some states with shorter foreclosure timelines like California and Oregon demonstrates there is still some pent-up foreclosure activity in those states as well."

States that require judicial foreclosures, where foreclosures must be pursued through the courts, generally take longer to complete the process than states that do not require court intervention.

While bank repossessions are down 27 percent from last year, they actually showed a monthly increase in half of the 50 states in May and were up on an annual basis in 14 states.

Published on June 10, 2014