While Congress fiddles with the housing rescue bill, banks repossessed nearly 72,000 American homes last month, according to figures released today by RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based firm with a nationwide database of distressed properties.

"Bank repossessions, or REOs, continue to increase at a much faster pace than default notices or auction notices," says James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac's CEO. "REOs in June were up 171% from a year ago, while default notices were up 38% and auction notices were up 22% over the same time period."

That's bad news for banks and builders alike. Banks don't like to hold property, and new-home builders often can't afford to compete with a growing inventory of bank-owned properties offered to buyers at fire-sale prices.

RealtyTrac reports that foreclosures also increased, with more than 252,000 properties receiving a foreclosure filing in June. It represents a small drop (3%) from the previous month, but June's foreclosure activity is still 53% higher than the same period last year.

Regionally, the same states continue to be troubled by foreclosures. Nevada was the state with the highest rate of foreclosure, with 1 in 122 households receiving such a filing. California experienced both high foreclosure rates (1 in 192 properties) and high numbers of foreclosures. With 68,666 foreclosure filings in June, California has been the state with the highest number for foreclosures in the nation for a year and a half, according to RealtyTrac.

For more information, visit www.realtytrac.com.

Alison Rice is senior editor, online for BUILDER magazine.

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