LOS ANGELES - More than 1 million American households are likely to lose their homes to foreclosure this year, as lenders work their way through a huge backlog of borrowers who have fallen behind on their loans.

Nearly 528,000 homes were taken over by lenders in the first six months of the year, a rate that is on track to eclipse the more than 900,000 homes repossessed in 2009, according to data released today by RealtyTrac Inc., a foreclosure listing service.By comparison, lenders have historically taken over about 100,000 homes a year, said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac.

The surge in home repossessions reflects the dynamic of a foreclosure crisis that has shown signs of leveling off in recent months, but remains a crippling drag on the housing market. The pace at which new homes falling behind in payments and entering the foreclosure process has slowed as banks continue to let delinquent borrowers stay longer in their homes rather than adding to the glut of foreclosed properties on the market. At the same time, lenders have stepped up repossessions in an effort to clear out the backlog of distressed inventory on their books.

The number of households facing foreclosure in the first half of the year climbed 8 percent versus the same period last year, but dropped 5percent from the last six months of 2009, according to RealtyTrac, which tracks notices for defaults, scheduled home auctions and home repossessions.