DENVER - Colorado's foreclosure rate has returned to pre-recession levels, according to a report released Tuesday by the Colorado Division of Housing.

In 2012, 28,579 foreclosures were started and 15,903 were completed across the state. That's the fewest since 2006 and 2005, respectively, the report said.

Boulder County posted an 18 percent drop in the number of foreclosure filings, with 789 proceedings started in 2012. The number of properties sold at auction dropped 25 percent, to 372, the report said.

The improvements in Broomfield County were more modest. The county experienced a 1.4 percent decrease in the number of proceedings started, down to 210, and a 2 percent decrease in the number of completed sales, to 96.

"Foreclosures in 2012 basically dropped back down to 2006 levels," Colorado Division of Housing economist Ryan McMaken said in a release. "There are also many more households now than in 2006, so if you adjust the foreclosure rate for the population growth, we're almost back at 2005 levels."

Going forward, the picture gives reason to hope the worst of the crisis is in the past. The number of foreclosure starts peaked in 2009, when more than 46,000 were filed.

"At this point, there is a well established downward trend, but this does not guarantee continued declines," the report said. "However, given current trends in employment and demand for real estate, it does appear that foreclosure activity will continue to decline in the absence of significant increases in unemployment."

A stable unemployment rate and fewer risky loans are two reasons for the drop, the report said.