The foreclosure crisis is now spreading to cities that were once relatively unscathed from the crisis. Seattle, Houston, and Chicago have joined the list of other cities in the United States plagued by a growing number of foreclosures and home owners unable to make their mortgage payments.
Foreclosure activity increased in 149 of the country's 206 largest metro areas last year, reported RealtyTrac Inc., a foreclosure listing firm.
In the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metro area, the foreclosure rate jumped 26 percent from 2009 - the largest increase in foreclosures among the top 20 metro areas, according to RealtyTrac.
In Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, the foreclosure rate increased nearly 23 percent - ranking second in areas with the largest increases. In Georgia, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metro area was third with a 21 percent spike.
In the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet area, foreclosure activity rose 16 percent and home repossessions climbed nearly 20 percent, making it the second-highest city with the largest number of bank repossessions. (Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale in Arizona had the highest number of bank repossessions overall.)
Bad mortgages are no longer taking most of the blame for the spike in foreclosures either.
We've actually had a sea change in what's causing foreclosures, from the overheated home prices and bad loans to a second wave of foreclosures actually caused by unemployment and economic displacement, Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac, told MSNBC.
As unemployment and the economy improve, Sharga expects metro areas like Houston, Seattle, and Chicago to bounce back quickly. However, he expects the traditional foreclosure hotbeds - California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona - to take longer to recover. Those states account for 19 of the top 20 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in 2010.
The highest overall foreclosure rate in the nation? Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.: One out of every nine households received a foreclosure-related notice in 2010, which is nearly five times the national average, RealtyTrac reports.
Source: Foreclosures Spread Into Previously Safe Areas, MSNBC (Jan. 27, 2011)