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Arizona foreclosures drop in 2012

PHOENIX — A new report finds Arizona continues to creep out of the housing slump.

RealtyTrac’s year-end report showed the state’s foreclosure rate last year dropped 33 percent from 2011. The numbers fall in line with the rest of the country, said company vice president Daren Blomquist.

“That number of negative equity homeowners is down 1.6 million from a year ago, so a year ago it was at 12.5 million,” Blomquist said.

“We’re making progress on that front too but it’s not going to be overnight that we get out of the problems created by the house bubble.”

Arizona ended 2012 with the third-highest foreclosure rate in the nation after three consecutive years with the second-highest rate. A total of 76,487 properties had foreclosure filings during the year, 2.69 percent of all housing units in the state (one in 37).

Nationwide, the country is split when it comes to foreclosures — 25 states saw an increase while the other half had a drop in the number of filings.

“There are still 10.9 million homeowners nationwide who owe more on their property than what it’s worth,” Blomquist said.

“That’s just going to take time as home prices gradually increase, for those homeowners to get out from that negative equity position.”

U.S. foreclosure filings fell last month to the lowest level in more than five years.