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, which was released yesterday by the 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 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.
In California, where home values have more than tripled since 1995, plunging home prices and tighter lending standards have chilled the market, leaving many financially strapped homeowners - some facing steep payment increases 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 Las Vegas metro area, which also includes Paradise, Nev., reported a total of 59,983 foreclosure filings on 30,375 properties in 2007.