According to RealtyTrac's 2012 Year-End Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report, foreclosure activity increased from 2011 in 120 (57 percent) out of the nation's 212 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more. Foreclosure activity during the year decreased from 2010 -- when foreclosures peaked in most markets -- in 181 out of the 212 markets tracked in the report (85 percent).
Foreclosure activity in 2012 decreased from 2011 in 12 out of the nation's 20 largest metro areas, led by Phoenix (down 37 percent), San Francisco (down 30 percent), Detroit (down 26 percent), Los Angeles (down 24 percent), and San Diego (down 24 percent).
But 2012 foreclosure activity increased in eight of the 20 largest metros, led by Tampa (80 percent increase), Miami (36 percent increase), Baltimore (34 percent increase), Chicago (30 percent increase), and New York (28 percent increase).
"Markets with increasing foreclosure activity in 2012 took the first step in finally purging delayed distress left over from the bursting housing bubble," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "Meanwhile, the underlying fundamentals in many of those markets are slowly improving, making it an opportune time to absorb additional foreclosure inventory this year -- and that is particularly good news for buyers and investors hungry for more inventory to purchase in those markets."
Florida cities account for eight of top 20 metro foreclosure rates
Despite double-digit percentage decreases in foreclosure activity compared to 2011, California cities accounted for the top four metro foreclosure rates, led by Stockton with 3.98 percent of housing units (one in 25) with a foreclosure filing during the year -- nearly three times the national average.
Other California cities with foreclosure rates among the 20 highest were Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario at No. 2 (3.86 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing), Modesto at No. 3 (3.82 percent), Vallejo-Fairfield at No. 4 (3.73 percent), Merced at No. 11 (3.23 percent), Bakersfield at No. 15 (3.11 percent), and Sacramento at No. 20 (2.94 percent). All seven California cities in the top 20 documented declining foreclosure activity compared to 2011.
Florida cities accounted for eight of the 20 highest metro foreclosure rates, led by Miami at No. 5 with 3.71 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing during the year. Other Florida cities in the top 20 were Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville at No. 6 (3.60 percent), Orlando at No. 8 (3.46 percent), Tampa at No. 12 (3.22 percent), Lakeland at No. 13 (3.17 percent), Jacksonville at No. 14 (3.14 percent), Cape Coral-Fort Myers at No. 18 (3.08 percent), and Ocala at No. 19 (3.01 percent). Except for Cape Coral-Fort Myers, all Florida cities in the top 20 documented increasing foreclosure activity from 2011 to 2012.
Other cities with foreclosure rates among the nation's 20 highest were Atlanta at No. 7 (3.51 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing), Chicago at No. 9 (3.31 percent), Rockford, Ill., at No. 10 (3.28 percent), Las Vegas at No. 16 (3.10 percent), and Phoenix at No. 17 (3.09 percent).
Best Places to Buy Foreclosures in 2013
To select the best places to buy foreclosures in 2013, RealtyTrac scored all metro areas with a population of 500,000 or more by summing up four numbers: months' supply of foreclosure inventory, percentage of foreclosure sales, foreclosure discount, and percentage increase in foreclosure activity in 2012.
Topping the list of best places to buy foreclosures in 2013 was the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro area in Florida with a total score of 394: 34 months' supply of inventory, foreclosure sales representing 24 percent of all sales, average foreclosure discount of 28 percent, and a 308 percent increase in foreclosure activity in 2012 compared to 2011.
Five other Florida cities ranked among the Top 20 best places to buy foreclosures: Lakeland, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami.
Five New York cities ranked among the 20 best places to buy foreclosures in 2013, based largely on big backlogs of foreclosure inventory and big increases in foreclosure activity in 2012: Rochester, Albany, New York, Poughkeepsie, and Syracuse.
Other cities in the Top 20 were Chicago, Ill.; El Paso, Texas; Philadelphia; Allentown, Pa.; Youngstown, Ohio; Bridgeport, Conn.; Cleveland, Ohio; New Haven, Conn.; and Indianapolis, Ind.
Worst Places to Buy Foreclosures in 2013
The metro with the lowest score was McAllen, Texas, with a 12-month supply of foreclosure inventory, foreclosure sales accounting for 7 percent of all sales, an average foreclosure discount of 21 percent, and a 66 percent decrease in foreclosure activity in 2012 compared to 2011.
Metros with the lowest scores were dominated by cities in the west, including Ogden, Utah; Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., San Jose, Calif., and Honolulu.