Fewer American homes entered the foreclosure process in November, according to numbers released today by RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based firm which maintains a national database of foreclosed and bank-owned properties.

Fewer than 260,000 properties received foreclosure filings last month, which represents a 7 percent decline compared to the previous month. “Foreclosure activity in November hit the lowest level we’ve seen since June, thanks in part to recently enacted laws that have extended the foreclosure process in some states, along with more aggressive loan modification programs and self-imposed holiday foreclosure moratoriums introduced by some lenders,” said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO said.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently announced they would suspend foreclosures until early January to give homeowners a chance to take advantage of a new loan modification program on mortgages owned or guaranteed by the two firms.

But Saccacio cautioned that the foreclosure crisis is not over. “There are several indications, however, that this lower activity is simply a temporary lull before another foreclosure storm hits in the coming months," he said. "Delinquencies on loans not yet in the foreclosure process jumped to nearly 7 percent in the third quarter, a record high, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And more than half of the homeowners who received loan modifications to reduce monthly mortgage payments in the first half of 2008 are already delinquent on their loans again, according to the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision.”

Nationally, one in every 488 American homes received a foreclosure filing in November, with familiar states topping the list of foreclosure rates and volume. Nevada posted the highest foreclosure rate in the country, with one in every 76 properties in some stage of the process. States with the next highest foreclosure rates were Florida (one in every 173 homes) and Arizona (one in every 198 homes).

California recorded the highest number of foreclosures, with 60,491 homes in jeopardy and the fourth-highest rate, with one in 218 homes receiving a foreclosure filing. California localities were also heavily represented on RealtyTrac’s listing of metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates: Merced, Modesto, Stockton, Riverside-San Bernardino, Bakersfield, and Vallejo-Fairfield all made the top 10.

The metro area with the highest foreclosure rate in the country last month was Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., where one in every 59 homes was in foreclosure.

Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Cape Coral, FL, Riverside, CA, Los Angeles, CA.