Nationwide foreclosure filings fell 9 percent in April compared with the previous month and were down 2 percent from a year earlier, according to a RealtyTrac report released this week.

But California still posted the nation's fourth highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 192 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing.

In fact, California, Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Nevada accounted for 52 percent of the national total.

But the market in some San Gabriel Valley communities isn't nearly so bad, according to Kathleen Mueller, owner/broker for Mueller Realty in San Gabriel.

"I would say that less than 10 percent of our transactions involve foreclosures - probably 5percent," she said. "The west San Gabriel Valley really wasn't hit that hard with subprime loans. We're kind of insulated."

Mueller acknowledged, however, that banks are still making things difficult.

"They're still difficult to deal with and they're getting more difficult, rather than less," she said. "Even buyers with 20 percent down are having difficulty, and God forbid if we have less than 20 percent down and need PMI (private mortgage insurance). I've had situations where a lender will approve a loan, but then the PMI comes up with a ridiculous requirement that will kill it."

James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said "two important milestones" in the April report show that foreclosure activity has begun to plateau, but at a very high level that won't drop off in the near future.

"April was the first month in the history of our report with an annual decrease in U.S. foreclosure activity," Saccacio said in a statement. "Secondly, bank repossessions, or REOs, hit a record monthly high for the report even while default notices dropped substantially on a monthly and annual basis."

Saccacio expects that pattern to continue throughout most of 2010 as lenders work through their backlog of distressed properties.

Los Angeles County had 3,320 foreclosure filings in April, and the count in some San Gabriel Valley cities was relatively high.

Pasadena had 180; La Puente, 168; West Covina, 138 and Covina, 116. Other cities had substantially lower numbers, including Sierra Madre, 17; Santa Fe Springs, 20; and La Ca ada Flintridge, 22.

All told, California had 69,725 properties that received a foreclosure filing in April.