Housing foreclosure activity in the United States dropped to the lowest level since 2005 last month, according to a business research group.

ATTOM Data Solutions tracks default notices, auctions and bank repossessions across the nation and says the number of actions dropped 23 percent from a year ago. That means more than 77,000 homeowners missed payments, and banks took some kind of action to encourage the repayment of their loans.

Severe problems in the U.S. housing market, and sales of securities backed by sometimes-faulty mortgages, played a key role in the financial crisis, which is one reason that investors and economists watch the housing market closely.

Seattle, a city in the Pacific Northwest state of Washington, did the best in this study, with the number of foreclosure notices dropping 38 percent from the same time a year ago. Atlantic City, New Jersey, had the worst foreclosure problem in this study, with one out of every 237 housing units getting a notice of some kind.

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