NORTH BAY -- The proportion of homes in foreclosure in the North Bay last month was below the state average in four of the six counties, with the number of properties at risk of going back to lenders falling throughout the region in recent months, according to a report released today from foreclosure data compiler RealtyTrac.

One in every 309 housing units, or 657 total, in Sonoma County was at some stage of the foreclosure process -- default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions -- in January. The state average was one in 265.

That Sonoma County total was down from the prior month, when the county had 676 properties in foreclosure, and also down from 826 in November.

The highest rate in the county was in Annapolis, though the three homes in foreclosure there represented a significant portion of the area’s total housing. Geyserville was among the lowest rates in the county, one in 847. Santa Rosa had the highest number of foreclosed homes: 262, or one in 320.

Marin County had an average of one in 514 homes in foreclosure in January, totaling 212 homes. The county had 179 homes in foreclosure in December, with a recent high of 271 in October.

An average of one in 320 homes, or 172 homes all together, were reported in Napa County. There were 207 homes in foreclosure in December, continuing a downward trend from the recent high of 232 in October.

One in every 315 homes, or 116 properties, was in foreclosure in Mendocino County. In December, 108 homes were in foreclosure, and 173 were in the process of going back to lenders in November.

Nearby Solano County had the highest North Bay rate, at one in 166 homes, or 900 total. That number was down from 949 in December of last year, with 1,109 homes in foreclosure in November.

Just ahead of Solano was Lake County, 1 of 169 homes were in foreclosure, totaling 200 properties. There were 93 homes in foreclosure in December and 206 in November.

California foreclosure activity as a whole dropped to a 50-month low in January, 23 percent lower than at the same time in 2011.

The state still maintains the second-highest foreclosure rate in the nation, behind Nevada’s rate of one in 198 housing units. California had 51,584 in various stages of foreclosure last month.

The national foreclosure rate -- one in every 624 homes -- increased 3 percent from December but was down 19 percent from January 2011, according to RealtyTrac.

Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac, said in the report that the early February mortgage and foreclosure settlement negotiated by attorneys general from California and other states set clear guidelines that could help “push through” foreclosures that were delayed last year.