RealtyTrac: Foreclosure Activity Declines in 62% of Major Cities

Almost two-thirds of major metropolitan cities have processed fewer foreclosures over the last year. Image: ThinkStock

As overall foreclosure activity fell to a five-year low in September, RealtyTrac said in its latest report that many metropolitan cities are also processing fewer foreclosures in the third quarter compared to a year ago.

In 131 out of 212 cities (62%) that have a population of at least 200,000, third-quarter foreclosure activity fell year-over-year. The Irvine, Calif.-based analytic provider revealed almost identical figures in activity decreasing from the previous quarter, too.

“This data indicates that most of the nation’s housing markets are past the worst of the foreclosure problem,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “In fact foreclosure activity in September 2012 was below September 2007 levels in 58% of the metro markets we track. Still, rebounding foreclosure activity in some markets remains a threat to home price stability and growth in those markets.”

Foreclosure activity decreased annually in 12 of the largest 20 metropolitan areas, led by San Francisco (36%), Detroit (31%), Los Angeles (29%), Phoenix (27%) and San Diego (26%).

Meanwhile, the biggest annual increases in foreclosure activity tended to be in markets where the foreclosure process slowed down dramatically in the last two years, resulting in a “buildup of foreclosures in limbo” that lenders are beginning to now work through the pipeline, Blomquist added.

For example, in New York—where the foreclosure process takes approximately three years to complete—there was a 69% rise in foreclosure activity in 3Q. Other cities that experienced a robust increase in foreclosure activity over the last year include Tampa, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle, which were all up by 43%, 34%, 34% and 20%, respectively.

Even though foreclosure activity declined 21% in Stockton, Calif., in 3Q, the city still documented the highest foreclosure rate in which one in every 67 housing units recorded a foreclosure filing. This statistic is more than three times the national average, RealtyTrac said.

Furthermore, six other California cities followed Stockton to account for the top seven metropolitans with the highest foreclosure rates across the country despite all experiencing a decrease in foreclosure activity during the third quarter compared to last year.

Also, Florida accounted for seven of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates in 3Q, with six cities posting an increase in foreclosure activity from a year ago.