Most foreclosures clustered in four states (guess which four?)

According to RealtyTrac's report on foreclosures for the first quarter, every single one of the top 26 most foreclosure-ridden cities is located in one of four states: California, Arizona, Florida and Nevada.

Las Vegas, Merced, CA, Cape Coral-Fort Myers and California's Stockton, Riverside, Modesto, Bakersfield and Vallejo-Fairfield topped list. Cities in Idaho and California landed at numbers 27 and 28 on the list.

This is the old "Real estate is local" cliche taken to an extreme, and the foreclosure boom appears to be mostly a tale of four states.

"The metro areas with the highest levels of foreclosure activity in the first quarter of 2009 paint a picture of concentrated problems in a relatively small number of hard hit areas," RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio said in a press release. "Sales activity appears to be increasing in some of these markets as home prices have fallen to levels that are attractive to first-time homebuyers and investors. While we expect many of these metro areas to continue to experience high levels of foreclosure activity throughout 2009, we also expect to see other markets rise up the ranks as unemployment rates surge throughout the country."

Looking at the data a little bit further, it gets even more interesting. 803,489 properties received foreclosure filings in the first quarter. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA comprised a full 13.75% of all foreclosures for the first quarter of 2008. At least for now, the story of the real estate market appears to be a few areas with a record of sloppy lending and inflated prices imploding and making the national story look a lot worse than perhaps it really is.

Meanwhile, there are signs that the prices may finally be bottoming as evidenced by the increased sales volume and competitive bidding for well-priced properties. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that
"real-estate brokers say multiple offers on certain homes have recently become more common in parts of California and Arizona and the Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan areas...On Wednesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices nationwide rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7% in February from January, led by gains on the West Coast."
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