Home foreclosures nationwide hit a six-year low

Foreclosure activity in January dropped to its lowest level nationwide since June 2006.

Loan default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions also fell sharply in Kansas and Missouri last month compared with January 2012.

Data collected by RealtyTrac, a data collection firm based in Irvine, Calif., showed that foreclosure filings nationwide fell 28 percent in January from a year earlier. The activity was also down 7 percent from December as the nation’s housing market continues to steadily improve.

“The U.S. foreclosure landscape in January was profoundly altered by the effects of new legislation that took effect in California the first of the year,” said Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac vice president.

California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights, among other things, imposes fines for unverified foreclosure documents and requires mortgage counselors to step up assistance.

For the first time in five years, California did not have the most properties facing foreclosure proceedings, RealtyTrac said. The top spot in January went to Florida.

In Kansas, foreclosure actions last month fell nearly 41 percent. Activity in Missouri fell more than 31 percent for the month compared with January 2012.

In addition, property auctions scheduled for this year increased in 26 states as cases continued to work through the foreclosure process. But Kansas and Missouri were among the 24 states showing declines in scheduled auctions.