Foreclosure activity up across most US metro areas

Alex Veiga
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The foreclosure crisis intensified across a majority of large U.S. metropolitan areas this summer, with Chicago and Seattle – cities outside of the states that have shouldered the worst of the housing downturn – seeing a sharp increase in foreclosure warnings.

California, Nevada, Florida and Arizona remain the nation’s foreclosure hotbeds, accounting for 19 of the top 20 metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates between July and September, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

Those states saw housing values surge during the housing boom years. When the boom ended, values collapsed and foreclosures soared.

But the latest data show that many of the metro areas in those states saw a decline in the number of households receiving foreclosure-related filings, while many cities in other states saw a spike in foreclosure activity.

“The epidemic is spreading from the states at the ground zero of the foreclosure problems out into areas that hadn’t been previously affected,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac.

The trend is the latest sign that the nation’s foreclosure crisis is worsening as homeowners facing high unemployment, slow job growth and uncertainty about home prices continue to fall behind on their mortgage payments.

In all, 133 out of 206 metropolitan areas with at least 200,000 residents posted an annual increase in foreclosure activity in the three months ended Sept. 30, RealtyTrac said.

The firm tracks notices for defaults, scheduled home auctions and home repossessions – warnings that can lead up to a home eventually being lost to foreclosure.

Eleven out of the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas saw foreclosure activity increase in the third quarter compared to the same period last year.

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