New foreclosure data show the number of U.S. homes that were repossessed by lenders fell in April, compared with March and a year ago.

Foreclosure listing service RealtyTrac Inc. also said Thursday that fewer homes entered the foreclosure process in April and that the number of scheduled foreclosure auctions dropped.

The decline is due to foreclosure processing delays that appear to be getting worse and threaten to drag out a housing recovery.

It's taking longer for lenders to move against homeowners behind on payments and to take back homes already in some stage of the foreclosure process. Banks also have had to revisit thousands of cases following foreclosure documentation problems that surfaced last fall.

From January to March, the foreclosure process took an average of 400 days to run its course.