Stockton, Calif., which saw a 21% decline in foreclosures, still managed to claimthe nation's highest foreclosure rate, however. "That foreclosures there are still the highest in the country speaks to how severe the problem was," said Blomquist.
Yet, there are still some trouble spots, particularly in Florida.
In Miami, which had the 10th highest foreclosure rate, filings rose 11%. In Jacksonville, foreclosures were up 32%, Palm Bay saw a 64% increase, Tampa was up 43% and Orlando notched a 15% jump.
Housing market rebound ... finally!
Blomquist attributed Florida's problems to the after effects of the robo-signing scandal. Florida is a "judicial state," where foreclosures get processed through the courts. Lenders hesitated to bring foreclosure cases before a judge until they were confident their paperwork would stand up to the stepped-up scrutiny that followed the scandal. But now that new rules have been put in place through the $25 billion mortgage settlement, they are playing catch-up.
Of the metro areas with the 20 highest foreclosure rates, all are still in California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida, with two notable exceptions. Chicago saw a 34% jump froma year-ago, and had the ninth highest foreclosure rate. Atlanta had the 15th highest rate. The good news there: Foreclosures fell 20% year-over-year.
In Las Vegas, filings fell dramatically -- 71% --because of state legislation passed last year that requires lenders to file affidavits vouching for their paperwork and their foreclosure action against a borrower, Blomquist said.
Many lenders now bypass the foreclosure process entirely in Nevada, working with troubled borrowers to arrange short sales even before filing notices of default. That's not all good news, however. "[For cities like Las Vegas,] it's a shift in the way the distress is handled rather than the distress evaporating," said Blomquist.