Urban home foreclosures surge in '07: RealtyTrac

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Home foreclosure filings surged in the largest metropolitan areas in the United States during 2007, with cities in California, Ohio, Florida and Michigan reporting among the highest rates in the country, real estate data firm RealtyTrac said on Wednesday.

The U.S. foreclosure rate of households in the top 100 metropolitan areas was 1.38 percent and the total number of foreclosure filings rose 78.2 percent last year to 1.775 million, said RealtyTrac, an online market of foreclosure of properties, in its Year-End 2007 Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report.

Fifteen of the metro areas with the top 20 metro foreclosure rates were located in four states: California with six; Ohio with four; Florida with three and Michigan with two, the report said.

“As expected, the number of properties entering some stage of foreclosure in 2007 was up in the vast majority of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, with 86 metros reporting increases from 2006,” James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement.

Most of the metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates were places like Stockton, California and Las Vegas, which experienced meteoric growth and unsustainable price appreciation over the past few years, or cities such as Detroit, which have undergone a widespread economic downturn with higher unemployment rates, he said.

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Foreclosures have soared as falling U.S. home prices have exposed underwriting standards weakened during the housing boom to boost volume. Billions of dollars in losses at financial firms and Wall Street banks have resulted in lenders putting borrowing rates out of reach for many homeowners who had planned on getting new loans or refinancing an adjustable mortgage before higher monthly payments kicked in.

Lower appraisals on homes have also prevented borrowers from refinancing into loans with easier terms.

Detroit registered the highest foreclosure rate among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, with close to 5 percent of its households entering some stage of foreclosure during the year, which was 4.8 times the national average and up from about 3 percent in 2006.

A total of 72,616 foreclosure filings on 41,273 properties were reported in the metro Detroit area in 2007, up 68 percent from a year earlier.

Stockton, California, with 4.87 percent of its households entering some stage of foreclosure during the year, documented the second highest metro foreclosure rate.

A total of 22,184 foreclosure filings on 10,608 properties were reported in the metro area in 2007, up nearly four times over from 2006.

Las Vegas posted the third highest metro foreclosure rate among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in 2007, with 4.23 percent of its households entering some stage of foreclosure during the year.

A total of 59,983 foreclosure filings on 30,375 properties were reported in the metro area during 2007, almost tripling compared with a year earlier.

Additional Reporting by Albert Yoon; reporting by Julie Haviv; editing by Ted D’Afflisio and Gary Crosse