Whatcom County and the rest of Washington experienced a surge in new foreclosure filings in February, according to a new report.
Last month Whatcom County had 114 foreclosure notices, nearly double January's total, according to RealtyTrac, a national online database for foreclosure property. A vast majority of those filings - 92 - were notice of trustee sales, typically the first stage of the foreclosure process.
That total equates to one in every 770 units receiving a filing last month in Whatcom County. The Washington state rate was one in every 656 units, while the national rate was one in 849 units.
Washington state had 4,362 filings last month, a 123 percent increase from a year earlier. Washington now ranks fifth highest in the U.S., behind Florida, Nevada, Illinois and Ohio. It's the seventh straight month that foreclosure activity has increased in Washington.
The current ranking is the highest for Washington in the eight years the company has issued its monthly report.
Washington is among a handful of states that will take longer to work through the distressed property problems that have plagued the country in recent years, said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.
In an interview earlier this year, Blomquist said state legislation enacted in previous years meant to slow the foreclosure process possibly created a backlog of distressed property in places like Washington. He expects the current batch of increased filings to end up as either foreclosures or short sales later this year.
Across the U.S., 154,281 filings were reported in February, down 25 percent from a year ago. Bank repossession filings hit a 65-month low, according to the report.