Foreclosure leaders focused on 4 states in new metro list
By Catherine Clifford, CNNMoney.com staff writer
The 26 cities with the highest foreclosure rate in the nation are all located in four hard-hit states, with Las Vegas topping the list, according to a report released Wednesday.
Metro areas in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona topped the foreclosure filing list for the first quarter of 2009 in a report from RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties. A foreclosure filing includes default papers, auction sale notices and repossessions.
Las Vegas had the highest rate of foreclosures of any city, with one in every 22 homes subject to a foreclosure filing in the first three months of the year. The rate of foreclosure filings was 4.5%, seven times the national average.
Merced, Calif., had the second highest rate, with Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., Stockton, Calif., and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., rounding out the top five.
"The metro areas with the highest levels of foreclosure activity in the first quarter of 2009 paint a picture of concentrated problems in a relatively small number of hard-hit areas," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, in a written statement.
Foreclosure rates have been very high in the 4 key states throughout the bursting of the housing bubble, and so it was to be expected that cities from those states would pepper the top of the list.
However, it was a surprise to see the list so top heavy, according to Rick Sharga, senior vice president at RealtyTrac.
"The concentration of troubled metro areas within the hardest-hit states, candidly, was even more severe than we expected it to be," Sharga said. "The degree to which those four states dominated the rankings surprised even us."
The economic downturn set off by the Sand States' mortgage meltdown has spread enough that foreclosures are finally trickling down to other regions:
New problem cities: Meanwhile, some metropolitan areas had a surge in foreclosures. Boise City-Nampa, Idaho, in 27th place, Provo-Orem, Utah, in 37th, and Charleston-North Charleston, S.C., in 51st were examples Sharga gave of areas that had particular strong gains in filings.
Sharga said the rise of foreclosures in additional regions indicates new factors influencing the housing market as the recession drags on.
"What we believe we are seeing is some of the areas with unemployment problems," said Sharga. "These are people living paycheck to paycheck and, when the paycheck is gone, suddenly they can't afford to make their mortgage payments." ...
But, mostly, it's still the damn Sand States:
The national report also found that the worst of the foreclosures were centralized in a handful of worst-hit states. California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Illinois accounted for nearly 60% of the total foreclosure activity in the first quarter, with 479,516 properties received foreclosure filings in those states.
So, if nearly 60% of the newly foreclosed homes Q1-2009 are still in the four sand states, where home prices and Loan to Value ratios were higher, then those states must account for the huge majority of the defaulted dollars.
What was it about the Sand States that set them on the path to bring down the national economy? All that sand?