By Brian Louis
July 30 (Bloomberg) -- Las Vegas and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida led U.S. metropolitan areas in foreclosures in the first half of the year as unemployment and falling home prices forced home-loan defaults, RealtyTrac Inc. said.
The Las Vegas area had the highest rate of foreclosure filings, with 7.5 percent of households receiving a default or auction notice or being seized by a lender. That rate was six times the national average. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers region, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, was second, with a rate of 7.2 percent.
“Foreclosure activity continued its upward trajectory nationwide and in the majority of metro areas in the first half of the year,” James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement. “While some of the markets that had the highest saturation of foreclosures over the past few years have seen declining rates, new markets like Provo, Utah, and Boise, Idaho, have seen large increases.”
Home prices in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas dropped 17.1 percent in May from a year earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index. Nationwide, home prices have fallen 21 percent since peaking in July of 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors in Chicago. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent in June, the highest in almost 26 years, the U.S. Labor Department said on July 2.
That brought the total number of lost jobs to about 6.5 million since the recession started in December 2007, the Labor Department said.
1.5 Million Properties
U.S. foreclosure filings rose to a record in the first half as job losses and slumping home prices fueled an increase in defaults, RealtyTrac said in a July 16 report. More than 1.5 million properties received a default or auction notice or were seized by banks in the six months through June. That’s a 15 percent increase from the year earlier.
Six of the nation’s top 10 metro areas for foreclosure rates were in California, according to RealtyTrac. Merced was the highest in California and third in the nation with a 6.9 percent rate of foreclosure filings. California’s unemployment rate was 11.6 percent in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The California metro areas of Riverside-San Bernardino- Ontario, Stockton, Modesto, Bakersfield, and Vallego-Fairfield were fourth through eighth on the list that included 203 U.S. metro areas.
The Phoenix region was ninth and Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida, was 10th, according to RealtyTrac. Florida’s unemployment rate was 10.6 percent in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
California had 12 areas in the top 25 with the highest rates and Florida had 10, according to Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac, a seller of default data.
The foreclosure data comes as reports on new and existing- home sales raise the prospect that the housing market may be approaching a bottom. The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.5 percent in May from the prior month, the first monthly gain since July 2006.
New home sales rose 11 percent in June, the biggest increase in eight years as homebuilders reduced prices, the Commerce Department said on July 27. The median price fell 12 percent to $206,200 from a year earlier.
Sales of existing homes rose for a third consecutive month in June, the National Association of Realtors said July 23.
Home resales climbed 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.89 million, stronger than forecast and the highest level since October, according to the National Association of Realtors. Median prices fell 15 percent from a year earlier to $181,800.