Foreclosure activity increased in 75 percent of 206 metro markets with populations of 200,000 or more during the first half of 2010, even as foreclosure-related filings fell in all but a half-dozen of the nation’s 20 hardest-hit metro areas, data aggregator RealtyTrac said today.

Foreclosure activity increased in 75 percent of 206 metro markets with populations of 200,000 or more during the first half of 2010, even as foreclosure-related filings fell in all but a half-dozen of the nation’s 20 hardest-hit metro areas, data aggregator RealtyTrac said today.

The data indicate that foreclosure activity may have peaked in some markets with the highest foreclosure rates, said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO. But the "fragile stability" emerging in many local housing markets hinges on improvements in the underlying economy, particularly job growth, he said.

"If unemployment remains persistently high and foreclosure prevention efforts only delay the inevitable, then we could continue to see increased foreclosure activity and a corresponding weakness in home prices in many metro areas,” Saccacio said.

All but one of the 20 markets identified by RealtyTrac as having the highest foreclosure rates were experiencing double-digit unemployment in June exceeding the national average of 9.6 percent, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The exception was the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., metro area, where unemployment was holding steady at 9 percent in June, the same as a year ago.

Nine of the top 20 markets with the highest foreclosure rates during the first half of the year were in Florida, and eight were in California. Two markets in Nevada — Las Vegas and Reno — also made the list.

Rank

Market

Filings per housing unit

Unemployment rate (percent)

U.S.

1 in 78

9.6

1.

Las Vegas-Paradise

1 in 15

14.5

2.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.

1 in 20

13.0

3.

Modesto, Calif.

1 in 22

17.3

4.

Merced, Calif.

1 in 22

18.1

5.

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.

1 in 23

14.4

6.

Stockton, Calif.

1 in 23

16.5

7.

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

1 in 23

9.0

8.

Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.

1 in 24

11.4

9.

Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.

1 in 26

12.2

10.

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.

1 in 26

11.7

11.

Reno-Sparks, Nev.

1 in 27

13.6

12.

Bakersfield, Calif.

1 in 27

15.7

13.

Naples-Marco Island, Fla.

1 in 31

12.3

14.

Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, Calif.

1 in 31

12.4

15.

Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla.

1 in 32

12.1

16.

Port St. Lucie, Fla.

1 in 33

13.4

17.

Lakeland, Fla.

1 in 35

12.5

18.

Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla.

1 in 36

11.4

19.

Visalia-Porterville, Calif.

1 in 37

15.8

20.

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.

1 in 37

12.0

Foreclosure filings were down from the same time a year ago in 14 of the top 20 markets, with most of the exceptions being in Florida. Foreclosure filings were up 18.3 percent in Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville; 15.5 percent in Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach; 10.6 percent in Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach; 9.8 percent in Lakeland; and 5.7 percent in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater.

The sixth metro area among top 20 foreclosure markets to see a year-over-year increase in foreclosure filings was Reno-Sparks, Nev. (up 4.4 percent).

Unemployment rates among the top 20 foreclosure markets ranged from a low of 9 percent in Phoenix to more than 15 percent in five California metros: Bakersfield (15.7 percent), Visalia-Porterville (15.8 percent), Stockton (16.5 percent), Modesto (17.3 percent) and Merced (18.1 percent).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that jobless rates were down from a year ago in 45 percent of the 372 metros tracked, but that unemployment still exceeded 10 percent in 128 markets, down from 145 areas a year ago.

Of the 49 metropolitan areas with a population of 1 million or more, the Las Vegas metro registered the highest unemployment rate in June (14.5 percent), followed by Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (14.4 percent); and Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. (14.3 percent). Seventeen other population centers posted rates of 10 percent or more.

RealtyTrac ranked the foreclosure rate in the Detroit-Warren-Livonia market at 28th, with one foreclosure-related filing per 40 households.

In terms of the raw number of filings, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metro area led the nation during the first half of 2010 with 94,466 properties subjected to a foreclosure-related filing. That was down 8 percent from the last half of 2009, but up nearly 11 percent from the same period a year ago.

That number of filings was nearly equaled in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metro area, where 93,263 properties were subjected to foreclosure-related filings in the first half of 2010. The Los Angeless area ranked 35th in terms of foreclosure rate, with one filing per 47 housing units.

A total of 78,022 properties in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area received a foreclosure filing in the first half of 2010, the third highest total number of filings.

Other metro areas ranking in the 10 highest foreclosure-related filings: Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale (73,352); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (63,717); Las Vegas-Paradise (53,525); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta (52,381); Detroit-Warren-Livonia (47,563); New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (44,522); and Orlando-Kissimmee (37,352).

RealtyTrac culls public records for notices of default, scheduled auction notices, and lender repossessions of homes in foreclosure. Not all homeowners who default on their loans complete the foreclosure process, as some are able to become current on their loans or negotiate a short sale or loan modification.

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