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Foreclosure activity in Utah has fallen sharply over the past year, a new report shows.

The number of foreclosure-related filings — ranging from notices that a homeowner is behind on a mortgage to repossession by a bank — fell by 21 percent from April 2011 to last month, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

Nationally, foreclosure activity was down by 13.9 percent, with both the number of properties entering the foreclosure process and those seized by banks declining.

Although the figures suggest foreclosure trends are improving nationally, many states remained mired in a crisis that has yet to ebb. "You absolutely have a tale of two different types of foreclosure trends," said RealtyTrac's Daren Blomquist.

The divide comes down roughly between the 26 states where courts play a role in the foreclosure process and 23 other states (including Utah and California) where the process generally moves quicker because judges are not required to sign off on foreclosures.

Last year, foreclosure activity slowed sharply as lenders grappled with allegations that they had been processing foreclosures without verifying documents. A $25 billion settlement reached in February between the nation's biggest mortgage lenders and state officials has since cleared the way for banks to take action on a logjam of unpaid mortgages.

In Utah, California, Arizona, Nevada and many other so-called non-judicial foreclosure states, foreclosure activity has been declining because they didn't build a huge backlog of pending foreclosure cases.

As a result, foreclosure activity in all the judicial foreclosure states combined jumped 15 percent versus April last year. Taken together, non-judicial states saw foreclosure activity fall 29 percent, RealtyTrac said.

In a separate report, the Mortgage Bankers Association said that in the first quarter, 6 percent of loans in Utah were in default — with a borrower at least 30 days behind on payments. That's below the national average of 6.9 percent. At the end of the first quarter, 2.5 percent of mortgage loans in Utah were in the foreclosure process, compared with 4.4 percent nationally.