By Mike Colpitts
Four states cities accounted for 19 of the top 20 metropolitan U.S. foreclosure centers in 2010 as the foreclosure crisis gained momentum in the majority of the nation, despite moratoriums put in place by five major national lenders, according to RealtyTrac.
California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona cities accounted for the most foreclosures. Boise, Idaho was the only other city to make it into the top 20 markets. Foreclosure activity rose in 149 of 206 metro areas with populations above 200,000 over 2009.
However, metros in the top ten also posted fewer foreclosures than in 2009, indicating that formal bank repossessions tapered off during the year in some of the most heavily affected markets. “Even so, foreclosure levels remained five to 10 times higher than historic norms in most of those hard-hit markets, where deep fault lines of risk remain and could potentially trigger more waves of foreclosure activity in 2011 and beyond,” said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio.
“Meanwhile foreclosures became more widespread in 2010 as high unemployment drove activity up in 72% of the nation’s metro areas, many of which were relatively insulated from the initial foreclosure tsunami.”
The Las Vegas, Nevada area retained the country’s highest metro foreclosure rate with one of every nine residential properties receiving a foreclosure filing of some sort during the year, more than five times the national average.
The Fort Myers, Florida region ranked second in the nation’s foreclosure crisis for 2010, despite experiencing less activity than in the two prior years. Foreclosure filings, which include notices of default and formal bank auction notices declined by 28% for the year from 2009, but foreclosures are expected to increase substantially throughout Florida in 2011 as vacation homeowners walk away from mortgages in increasing numbers.
In the heart of the Central Valley of California, Modesto also experienced a decline in activity for the year, but still managed to place third on the top metropolitan foreclosure list as one in every 14 housing units was posted with a foreclosure notice during the year.
Four other areas with foreclosure rates in the top 10 also reported two-year declines in activity: No. 6 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., where foreclosure activity was off nearly 20% from 2009; No. 7 Stockton, Calif., where activity was down nearly 19% from 2009; No. 8 Merced, Calif., where foreclosure activity was down nearly 31% from 2009; and No. 10 Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., where activity was down 12% from the previous year.