Sep 13, 2012 10:53 AM EDT

Foreclosures Rise In August; Banks Continue Offering Mortgage Aide

Jobless claims continue to rise and Americans are finding it more and more difficult to pay for their homes.

Foreclosure filings rose in August as lenders in several states continued to work through a backlog of delinquencies and defaults, according to an industry group's report Thursday.

Foreclosure notices -- including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- were filed on 193,508 properties during the month, an increase of 1% compared with July, according to RealtyTrac, which markets foreclosed properties. But filings were still 15% lower than the year-earlier period.

The main areas for foreclosures have begun to shift. Filings are rising in "judicial states" such as New Jersey, New York and Maryland, where the foreclosure process goes through the courts, and falling in "non-judicial states" such as California, Arizona, Nevada and the District of Columbia, where they're handled by a trustee, usually a title company.

The flood of foreclosures now coursing through the judicial states has swelled in the aftermath of the $25 billion foreclosure abuse settlement, signed off on this past April, that laid out a clear path of conduct for lenders when pursuing foreclosures. That caused many banks to push more cases though the foreclosure pipeline.

The judicial state of Illinois, where foreclosures were up 42% year over year, and Florida, where there was a 16% annual increase in August, respectively, now claim the two highest foreclosure rates. They dethroned states such as Arizona, California, Georgia and Nevada, according to RealtyTrac.

In Illinois, one in every 298 properties has been hit with a foreclosure filing reported.

A number of measures have been put in place to help struggling homeowners hang on to their homes. The federal government and the banks have stepped up their efforts, offering to reduce mortgage payments through principal reductions and lowering mortgage rates. More than 5 million borrowers have received some kind of mortgage aid since April 2009, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Home prices have also started to stabilize, and that has reduced the number of homeowners who are underwater, or owe more for their home than it is worth.

According to reports, there should be fewer bank repossessions this time next year.

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