Sun Belt Leads in Foreclosures

Foreclosure House for Sale

Four of the most populated sun belt states account for the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, according to the RealtyTrac mid-year foreclosure market report. California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona urban areas produced 35 of the 50 highest foreclosure rates among metro areas.

The report was tabulated from metro areas with populations of at least 200,000 residents. Some of the hardest hit foreclosure metro areas in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and California posted declines in foreclosure activity in the first six months of 2009. However, some areas not previously considered foreclosure hot beds have seen increases. More than 20% of metro areas that showed above average levels of foreclosures were in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arkansas, Illinois and South Carolina.

The report indicates that much of the new foreclosure activity may be related to growing unemployment, which has reached 9.5% nationally. “While some of the markets that had the highest saturation of foreclosures over the past few years have seen declining rates, new markets like Provo, Utah, and Boise, Idaho have seen large increases,” said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac chief executive officer. “As unemployment rates increase in different parts of the country, it’s very likely that we’ll see similar patterns develop elsewhere.”

Las Vegas posted the nation’s highest metro foreclosure rate with 7.45% of its housing (one in 13) receiving at least one foreclosure filing in the first half of 2009 — more than six times the national average. A total of 58,691 Las Vegas properties received foreclosure filings during the first half of the year, representing a 22% increase from the previous six months and a 56% increase from the first half of 2009.

The Florida Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area had the second highest foreclosure rate in the first half with 7.20% of its housing units (one in every 14) receiving at least one foreclosure filing. Merced, Calif., came in third highest with 6.89% of its units (one in 15) receiving at least one filing. Both reported slight decreases in foreclosure activity from the previous six months.

Other metro areas in the top 10 were the California cities of Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (5.73%), Stockton (5.64%), Modesto (5.38%), Bakersfield (4.53%) and Vallejo-Fairfield (4.48%), Phoenix (4.44%) and the Orlando, Fla., metro area (4.28%). All seven of these metro areas except Stockton and Modesto reported increasing foreclosure activity from the previous six months.

One of the nation’s worst foreclosures capitals, Stockton, California decreased nearly 4% from the previous six months and 13% from the first half of 2008. Modesto decreased nearly 3% from the previous six months.

With 1.86% of its housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in the first half of 2009, Detroit’s foreclosure rate continued to rank among the top 50 metro foreclosure rates. But foreclosure activity has decreased 8% from the previous six months and 16% from the first half of 2008.

Foreclosure activity in Cleveland, which posted the nation’s sixth highest foreclosure rate in 2007, decreased 11% from the previous six months and 30% from the first half of 2008. With only 1.36% of its housing (one in 73) receiving at least one foreclosure filing, Cleveland’s foreclosure rate was still above the national average, but not among the top 50 metro foreclosure rates in the first half of the year.