NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana followed the national pattern in home foreclosures last month, seeing a sharp decline from both June and July 2010, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

But foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac said that is not cheery news for housing markets. The Irvine, Calif.-based company said Thursday that delays on clearing out the stack of troubled housing loans would simply extend the current housing crisis.

In July, 1,704 Louisiana properties were targeted for some sort of foreclosure action. Those ranged from an initial notice of default to repossession by a lender.

But most of the Louisiana actions were either the end or close to the end for troubled homeowners: 637 properties were seized by lenders, while 761 received a final sale notice.

Louisiana ranked 27th in the country in foreclosure notices, with one in every 1,152 housing units targeted last month. Still, the count was down 17.7 percent from June and 22.6 percent from July 2010.

Nationally, foreclosure actions hit a 44-month low and posted their 10th consecutive monthly decline. U.S. foreclosures dropped 4 percent from June and 35 percent from July 2010. The June actions hit one in every 611 U.S. housing units.