Foreclosure Filings Decline in 84% of Largest U.S. Cities as Glut Grows

Foreclosure filings dropped in 84 percent of the largest U.S. cities in the first half of the year as paperwork delays and a glut of seized properties slowed the repossession of homes, according to RealtyTrac Inc.

Notices of default, auction and home seizure fell in 178 of the nation’s 211 biggest metropolitan areas, the Irvine, California-based data seller said today in a report. Cities in judicial states, where courts supervise the foreclosure process, showed the biggest declines from a year earlier.

Foreclosure notices have dropped amid a probe by all 50 state attorneys general into “robo-signing,” the practice by lenders and servicers of pushing through documents without verifying their accuracy. RealtyTrac expects about 2 million foreclosure filings this year, down from a January forecast of as many as 3.2 million.

“The foreclosure pipeline continues to be clogged in many local markets across the country, sometimes by a glut of already-foreclosed properties that are not selling quickly, sometimes by a mountain of improperly filed foreclosures that are blocking the inflow of new foreclosure filings -- and sometimes by both,” RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James J. Saccacio said in the report.

California, Nevada and Arizona accounted for 15 of the 20 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rate per household in the six-month period. Florida, a judicial state, had only one region in that group, Cape Coral-Fort Myers. A year ago, nine of Florida’s metro areas were in the top 20.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas had the highest foreclosure rate of any U.S. city, with one in 19 households receiving a notice, almost six times the national average. Phoenix ranked second, and Modesto, Stockton and Riverside in California were third through fifth. Boise, Idaho; Atlanta; Greeley, Colorado; and Salt Lake City were among the top 20, the data company said.

Seattle was the only metro area among the 20 largest by population to have an increase in filings, up 9.8 percent from the first half of 2010. It ranked 57th overall. Baltimore fell to 182nd from 83rd, the biggest decline in rankings, after filings dropped 74 percent.

RealtyTrac sells default data from more than 2,200 counties representing 90 percent of the U.S. population. Its metropolitan report covers areas with 200,000 or more people.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Levy in San Francisco at dlevy13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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