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Fewer foreclosures

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The number of foreclosures in the United States is dropping considerably — to a five-year low last month, USA Today reports.

The nationwide number of foreclosure filings in September — 180,427 properties — represents a 16 percent decrease from last year.

Actually, the number has been dropping for the past nine quarters, market researcher RealtyTrac said.

Home prices have risen steadily. They were up 4.6 percent in August from a year ago.

There are several reasons that foreclosures have diminished, USA Today notes.

One is that the economy is picking up: although 7 percent of U.S. home loans were 30 or more days delinquent in August, they were not in foreclosure.

These days, there are more short sales — transactions that occur when lenders agree to a home sale for less than what is owed on the property.

Another factor slowing foreclosures is more restrictions on the process. Some states are requiring lenders to take more steps before initiating foreclosure proceedings.

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