Eighty-four percent of the country's metro areas experienced declines in foreclosure activity in the first half of the year, according to RealtyTrac's Midyear 2011 Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report released Thursday. However, ""RealtyTrac"":http://www.realtytrac.com/pub/landing/optimized_c.asp?a=b&accnt=219329 attributes these declines not to an improving market, but to delays in local foreclosure processes.[IMAGE]
RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio points to issues with paperwork in judicial states as a leading cause of foreclosure delays.
""Foreclosure activity continued to slow in the first half of 2011, especially in the most foreclosure-saturated markets and in markets where the judicial foreclosure process is used,"" Saccacio said. ""The 20 metro areas with the biggest year-over-year decreases in foreclosure activity were all in states with judicial foreclosure processes - New York, Maryland, Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Illinois.
""These dramatic decreases indicate the foreclosure pipeline continues to be clogged in many local markets across the country, sometimes by a glut of already-foreclosed properties that are not selling quickly, sometimes by a mountain of improperly filed foreclosures that are blocking the inflow of new foreclosure filings - and sometimes by both.""
The top 10 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in the first half of the year showed a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity, according to RealtyTrac's report.
All cities ranking in the top 10 for foreclosures during the first half of the year were located in California, Nevada, or Arizona; and 15 of the top 20 foreclosure rates came from those three states as well.
In Florida, where nine of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates were located in the first half of 2010, only one metro area rank in the top 20 for the first half of 2011. Cape Coral-Fort Myers came in at No. 12.
Boise City-Nampa, Idaho; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Georgia; Greeley, Colorado; and Salt Lake City, Utah also ranked in the top 20.[COLUMN_BREAK]
At 5.36 percent - almost six times the national average - Las Vegas-Paradise had the highest rate of foreclosure filings for the first half of the year.
However, foreclosures in the area decreased 18 percent from both the previous six-month period and the first half of 2010. Foreclosure filings in the first half of 2011 in Las Vegas-Paradise totaled 43,944.
The metro area with the second-highest foreclosure rate - Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona - also experienced declines from the previous six months and the first half of 2010.
Foreclosures in the area declined 8 percent from the previous six-month period and 17 percent from the first six months of 2010. Total foreclosures in Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale were 60,985.
The metro has moved up to the No. 2 spot from No. 7 in the first six months of 2010.
Seven of the top 10 foreclosure rates were reported in California metro areas.
At 3.32 percent, Modesto ranked third in the nation, while Stockton came in at No. 4 with 3.24 percent.
Other California metros in the top 10 include Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario at No. 5 (3.21 percent); Vallejo-Fairfield at No. 6 (3.09 percent); Bakersfield at No. 8 (2.78 percent); Merced at No. 9 (2.78 percent); and Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville at No. 10 (2.53 percent).
Of the nation's 20 most-populated metro areas, only Seattle experienced an increase in foreclosure rates during the first half of the year with a rise of 10 percent.
The city moved up from No. 97 in the first half of 2010 to No. 57 in the first half of 2011, demonstrating the largest jump in rankings for the period.
With the second-highest jump, Houston rose from No. 109 in the first half of 2010 to No. 91 in the first half of 2011.
Minneapolis followed, rising from No. 79 to No. 64 over the same period.
The largest drop in rankings among the 20 most-populated metros occurred in Baltimore, which fell from No. 83 in the first half of 2010 to No. 182 in the first half of 2011.
Baltimore experienced a year-over-year decrease of 74 percent.
Washington, D.C., showed the second-largest drop, moving from No. 67 to No. 131, and Boston showed the third-greatest drop, down from No. 120 to No. 158.
RealtyTrac compiles its data using the total number properties with at least one foreclosure filing during the first six months of the year.