Foreclosure rates still soaring

Knock-on effects from risky mortgages and softening home prices show few signs of letting up; Nevada leads nation in delinquent homeowners.

By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Foreclosures continue to trouble real estate markets nationwide, with filings in April up 65 percent from a year earlier, according to a report released Tuesday.

Foreclosures were down 1 percent from March, but that may be because of an uptick in buying tied to the spring season, said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac, which released the monthly report.

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"Whether the decrease in April is the beginning of a trend this year remains to be seen," he said, "but we expect foreclosure activity to at least stay above last year's levels for the remainder of 2007."

Saccacio blamed the overall increase in foreclosures to a mix of risky loans taken out in the past few years and slowing gains in home prices. Soft home prices make it difficult for troubled borrowers to bail out of their loans by quickly selling their properties.

The list of hardest hit states was led by Nevada, which has held the dubious spot for four consecutive months. The state reported 3,737 foreclosure filings for the month, 1 of every 232 households there and up 224 percent from a year earlier.

Nevada had one of the strongest real estate markets through 2005 and it attracted much speculation. Though the Nevada economy remains strong, many speculators were caught by declining real estate prices there.

Other states with high rates of foreclosure despite strong economies include Colorado (1 of every 314 households), Connecticut (1 of 329) and California (1 of 400).

In Ohio, the troubled economy is responsible for a large number of foreclosures; the state has been hit hard by lay-offs in the industrial sector. Ohio had a rate of 1 filing for every 418 households, up 135 percent compared with April of 2006.

Other states in the top 10 in April were Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Michigan.

Six out of the 10 hardest hit cities were in California with Stockton registering the nation's highest rate, 1 foreclosure filing for every 131 households. Other California cities in the top 10 included No. 2 Vallejo-Fairfield and No. 4 Riverside-San Bernardino.

Greeley, Colorado, the highest ranked non-California city, came in third and Las Vegas was fifth. Top of page