Jae C. Hong, File, Associated Press
In this Feb. 8, 2008 file photo, a for sale sign stands in front of a bank-owned home.

SALT LAKE CITY — The number of properties falling into foreclosure is dropping dramatically, a new report indicates.

The RealtyTrac Q1 2012 Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report showed the rate of first quarter foreclosure activity in the state's most populous metropolitan statistical areas declined at least 22 percent from the last quarter of 2011, and at least 42 percent from the same period last year.

The Salt Lake City metro area reported a rate of foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — of 1 in every 163 households, putting the state capital at No. 47 nationally. The rate decreased 22 percent from fourth quarter 2011, and nearly 49 percent from first quarter 2011.

The Provo-Orem area ranked No. 52, with 1 in every 174 households reporting a filing — down more than 25 percent from last quarter and 42 percent year over year.

The Clearfield-Ogden area, which ranks No. 117, reported a filing in one of every 330 households — down more than 26 percent from the previous three-month period and a decrease of almost 56 percent year over year.

The nationwide average was 1 in every 230 households — a decline of 2.25 percent from fourth quarter 2011 and down just under 16 percent from the same period last year.

Stockton, Calif., posted the nation's highest metropolitan foreclosure rate in the first quarter, with one in every 60 housing units in the Stockton metro area reporting a foreclosure filing during the period — more than three times the national average.

Nearby Modesto, Calif., posted a nearly identical foreclosure rate, giving it the nation's second highest metro foreclosure rate. Three other California cities rounded out the top five foreclosure filing rates, with Riverside-San Bernardino at No. 3, Vallejo-Fairfield at No. 4 and Merced ranked fifth.

The report stated that first-quarter foreclosure activity increased from the previous quarter in 114 out of the nation's 212 metropolitan areas with a population of 200,000 or more.

First-quarter foreclosure activity increased from the previous quarter in 26 out of the nation's 50 largest metro areas, led by Pittsburgh, up 49 percent; Indianapolis, up 37 percent; and Philadelphia, up 30 percent. The biggest quarterly decreases in foreclosure activity among the 50 largest metro areas came in Portland, Ore., down 28 percent; Las Vegas, down 26 percent; and Providence, R.I. — down 24 percent.

"First quarter metro foreclosure trends were a mixed bag," said RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore. "While the majority of metro areas continued to show foreclosure activity down from a year ago, more than half reported increasing foreclosure activity from the previous quarter — an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets."

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