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 / Updated  / Source: Associated Press

The number of homes that got started on the path to foreclosure fell last year to a low not seen since before the high-flying days of the housing boom.Lenders also took back the fewest number of homes last year since 2007, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said on Thursday. While foreclosures remain elevated in many populous states, such as Florida, New York and California, they have been steadily declining since the U.S. housing market and economy began to rebound after years of decline. The U.S. housing market has emerged from a deep slump, aided by rising home prices, steady job growth and fewer troubled loans dating back to the housing-bubble days. Meanwhile, more homeowners are keeping up with their mortgage payments. That's led to fewer homes entering the foreclosure pipeline. Foreclosure starts totaled 747,728 last year -- down 33 percent from 2012 and the lowest annual level since 2006. All told, foreclosure starts fell in 37 states, including California, Arizona, Colorado and Georgia, but posted annual increases in 13 states, including Maryland, Arkansas, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York, the firm said. - Associated Press