Bank repossessions rose again last month, driving overall foreclosure activity in the United States to a 19-month high on an annual basis, industry firm RealtyTrac said. It said 126,868 homes across the country were at some point in the foreclosure process, up 1 per cent from April and 16 per cent more than in May last year. Foreclosure activity includes foreclosure notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions. Lenders reclaimed 44,892 homes last month, down 1 per cent from April but up 58 per cent from a year ago. It was the third month of annual increases in bank repossessions, which remained far below the peak in September 2013 when lenders reclaimed 102,134 properties. Foreclosure starts were down 1 per cent last month but rose 4 per cent from the same period last year, RealtyTrac said. Lenders started the foreclosure process on 51,414 properties last month. "May foreclosure numbers are a classic good news-bad news scenario, with the number of homeowners starting the foreclosure process stabilising at pre-housing crisis levels but the number of homeowners actually losing their homes to foreclosure still well above pre-crisis levels and on the rise," said Daren Blomquist, a vice-president of RealtyTrac. "Lenders and courts are pushing through stubborn foreclosure cases that have been languishing in foreclosure limbo for years as options to prevent foreclosure are exhausted or left untapped." A total of 49,413 properties were scheduled for auction last month, up 6 per cent from April and 5 per cent more than in May last year. Florida again has the highest foreclosure rates, RealtyTrac said.