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LOS ANGELES (AP) - RealtyTrac says the number of U.S. homes repossessed by lenders last month fell to the lowest level in more than five years.

The foreclosure listing firm says that while some states still saw increases in homes taken back by banks, nationally home repossessions fell 3 percent in March from the previous month and were down 21 percent from a year earlier.

All told, lenders repossessed 43,597 homes last month, the lowest level since September 2007.

RealtyTrac says at the current monthly pace, completed foreclosures will total roughly 550,000 this year. That's down from 671,000 last year.

Several factors are contributing to the decline in completed foreclosures: Steady job growth and ultra-low mortgage rates are helping the once-battered housing market recover, driving demand for homes and prices upward.

Even so, the number of foreclosure starts, or homes that entered the foreclosure process, edged higher for the second month in a row in March.

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