2.9 million (2,871,891 to be exact) homes received foreclosure filings in 2010, according to a newly released report from the firm RealityTrac. In December, foreclosure filings were reported on 257,747 properties, down 26 percent from 2009. The hardest hit states? Well, California, Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Michigan accounted for half the national total of all filings, while Nevada, Arizona and Florida posted the top individual state foreclosure rates. Business reporters parse the numbers, a few conjured up revealing charts, and all gave their opinions:

  • Will Foreclosures Rise Further In 2011?  "It's pretty clear that the problem last year was more tied to joblessness than to subprime mortgages," writes The Atlantic's Daniel Indiviglio, who hedges on a forecast for the forthcoming year. "At this point, it's hard to tell. Considering that some of the states hit hardest by the housing collapse appear to be experiencing less foreclosure activity, the overall numbers could begin to decline as well. It probably depends mostly on unemployment, however. If millions of jobless Americans facing foreclosure find work this year, then that could push down filings. But if unemployment remains stubbornly high, then we may see another record this year."
  • Warning of 'Foreclosure Glut,' decides CNBC reporter Diana Olick, who notes in an aside that "witches in Salem" and Feng Shui experts are cropping up to profit on the "distress" of foreclosed owners. About the "foreclosure glut," here's what the reporter had to say: "As the numbers mount, the [Government Sponsored Enterprises] and the banks will have to put more resources into unloading these properties, especially as new Spring organic housing supply comes on the market. If they choose to slash prices even more, the dip in overall home prices may fall deeper than expected."
  • The Foreclosure Total Could've Been Larger if not for the robo-signing scandal, notes Peter King at MortgageLoan.com. "Foreclosure filings were reported on just under 800,000 homes in the fourth quarter of 2010, a 14 percent decline from the third quarter of the year and the lowest quarterly total since the fourth quarter of 2008. Of those, nearly 230,000 were bank repossessions, the final step of the foreclosure process."
  • Foreclosures May Finally Start To Slow Down Next Year, figures NPR's Jacob Goldstein: "It will be 2013 before banks sell off their backlog of unsold houses.As we've noted before, repossessed houses tend to sell at a discount, and this backlog is likely to keep housing prices down. It's also likely to mean that home construction crews will largely remain idle. Who would want to build new houses that will have to compete with all those foreclosures coming to market?"
  • Good News? Look For a Spike In Initial Foreclosure Filings at the start of the year, writes Ilyce Glink at CBS Money Watch. Lenders are trying "to catch up on the foreclosure filing backlog. But with today’s unemployment report spiking north again, it’s clear that foreclosures will be trending up as well."