The foreclosure numbers for August qualify as an “is the glass half-empty or half-full” type of situation.

Last month, nearly 304,000 properties received foreclosure filings, the highest number yet, according to RealtyTrac. August also brought the highest foreclosure rate—one in every 416 American households—since the Irvine, Calif.-based firm began tracking such numbers several years ago.

But James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO, noted that the annual rate of increase for foreclosure filings, which has been skyrocketing, actually slowed last month. “The annual increase of 27 percent was actually substantially lower than in previous months this year, when it was hovering around 50 to 65 percent,” he said, suggesting that new laws and lender procedures may be the cause.

“The increases in default and auction activity could be slowing down partly as the result of new legislation passed in several states that is designed to give homeowners in distress more time before foreclosure proceedings are initiated. In addition, some lenders are adopting loan servicing guidelines that encourage more pro-active approaches to helping homeowners avoid foreclosure,” Saccacio says. “The question now is whether these measures will actually reduce foreclosures or simply cause a temporary lull in foreclosure activity.”

Elected officials at the national level have also been urging lenders to place temporary moratoriums on foreclosure proceedings.

Many states continue to struggle with high foreclosure levels, with just five places—Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, and Nevada—representing 61 percent of foreclosure activity in August, with more than 185,000 properties across those states receiving filings.

As it has for nearly two years, Nevada posted the highest foreclosure rate in the nation with one in 91 homes receiving such a notice. California, with 101,724 foreclosure filings, topped the list in terms of total numbers, followed by Florida with 44,000 filings.

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

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.