Foreclosures Up in Most U.S. Cities

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Foreclosure activity is up in 65% of U.S. metro areas, but down in the hardest-hit cities, according to RealtyTrac, a firm that measures the foreclosure market.

Cities in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona once again accounted for all top 10 foreclosure rates in the third quarter among metropolitan areas with a population of 200,000 or more. However, activity in these states actually decreased when compared year over year.

“What we’re seeing in the report is foreclosure activity is spreading as unemployment spreads,” said Rick Sharga, senior vice president of RealtyTrac, explaining that this is why cities, such as Seattle and Houston, who were only moderately affected by the foreclosure crisis are now experiencing high year-over-year increases.

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue led the way with a 71% rise in foreclosure activity from the third quarter of 2009, followed by Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, which experienced a 35% increase. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Detroit-Warren-Livonia and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta rounded out the top five metro areas experiencing a spike in foreclosure activity, with 26%, 23% and 20% increases, respectively.

Of the metro areas tracked in the report, 133 of 206 posted year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity.

“The underlying problems that are causing homeowners to miss their mortgage payments — high unemployment, underemployment, toxic loans and negative equity — are continuing to plague most local housing markets,” said James J. Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac.

RealtyTrac collected data from more than 2,200 counties nationwide, which account for more than 90% of the U.S. population. The index looks at homes in all three stages of foreclosure: notice of default, auction and bank repossession. If more than one foreclosure document is received for a property during the quarter, however, only the most recent filing is included in the report.

Las Vegas-Paradise continued to post the nation’s highest metro foreclosure rate, with one in every 25 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in the third quarter. A total of 32,288 properties in the metro area received a foreclosure filing during the quarter, a decrease of 20% from the third quarter of 2009.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., posted the nation’s second highest metro foreclosure rate, with one in every 35 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing. A total of 10,352 properties in the metro area received a foreclosure filing during the quarter, which is also a 22% decrease from the third quarter of 2009.

Other California metro areas in the top 10 were Stockton, Merced, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Bakersfield and Vallejo-Fairfield. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla., and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., were ranked 6th and 7th.

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