LOS ANGELES – The Detroit area, hit hard by the double-whammy of unemployment and a slumping housing market, had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation last year, with several cities in California ranked close behind, an analysis of foreclosure activity in the country's largest 100 metropolitan areas shows.
Some 4.9 percent of the households in the Detroit metro area were in some stage of foreclosure in 2007 — 4.8 times the national average, according to the study being released Wednesday by mortgage research company RealtyTrac Inc.
Stockton, Calif., ranked second with about 4.8 percent of its households in some stage of foreclosure, while the Las Vegas metro area was third with a 4.2 percent rate.
Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac determines the ranking by comparing the number of households in a metro area with the number of foreclosure filings, which include notices of default, auction sale notices or bank repossessions.
In all, 72,616 filings on 41,273 properties were reported in the Detroit metro area, which includes Livonia and Dearborn. The foreclosure rate represents a 68 percent jump from 2006, RealtyTrac said.
Michigan has been in a protracted economic downturn and has led the nation in unemployment, a combination that has caused many homeowners to fall behind on mortgage payments.
Another Michigan metro area comprising Warren, Farmington Hills and Troy was ranked 17th, with 2.1 percent of its households facing foreclosure.
"As expected, the number of properties entering some stage of foreclosure in 2007 was up in the vast majority of the nation's 100 largest metro areas, with 86 metros reporting increases from 2006," James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement.
In California, where home values more than tripled since 1995, plunging home prices and tighter lending standards chilled the market, leaving many financially strapped homeowners — some facing steep payment hikes from mortgage rate resets — with few options.
The slump has been steepest in inland regions that experienced a run-up in home prices and new construction toward the end of the housing boom, so it's not surprising that several of the six cities in the state that ended up ranked among the top 20 metro areas are located in the Central Valley and inland counties in Southern California.
In Stockton, 22,184 foreclosure filings were reported on 10,608 properties last year, up 271 percent from 2006, RealtyTrac said.
The Riverside-San Bernardino metro area east of Los Angeles was ranked fourth, with 102,506 filings on 51,739 homes, a rate of 3.8 percent.
Sacramento was ranked fifth, with 3.1 percent of its households reporting late payments.
The other California metropolitan areas in the top 20 were Bakersfield, ranked seventh; Fresno, ranked 14th; and Oakland at 16th.
The Las Vegas metro area, which also includes Paradise, Nev., reported a total of 59,983 foreclosure filings on 30,375 properties in 2007.
Ohio, which has also been wracked by high unemployment, had four metro areas among the top 20, including Akron at 12th, Dayton at 15th and Toledo at 19th.
The metro area comprising Cleveland, Lorain, Elyria and Mentor was ranked sixth, with some 2.9 percent of all households in some stage of foreclosure, RealtyTrac said.
Miami ranked eighth with a 2.7 percent rate, the highest among all metro areas in Florida. Fort Lauderdale was 10th and Orlando was 20th.
The other areas in the top 20 were Denver-Aurora, Colo., at No. 9; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga., at No. 11; Memphis, Tenn., at No. 13.; and Indianapolis at No. 18.