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Foreclosure rates rise from last quarter but down from last year

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 25, 2012 - Foreclosures increased by nearly 9 percent in the St. Louis area during the first quarter of 2012 compared to the last quarter of 2011, but the region’s foreclosure rate -- one in every 258 homes -- was still better than the national average of one in every 230, according to a new report on foreclosure statistics.

The number of St. Louis area properties receiving some type of foreclosure notice during the first quarter of 2012 was 3.62 percent lower than the same period of 2011. Most of the 4,841 foreclosure notices were for later stages of the process: 2,537 auction (notices of trustee sales and foreclosure sales) and 1,661 REO (foreclosed properties repurchased by banks). Default notices numbered 643 for the quarter.

The nation’s foreclosure statistics made for a “mixed bag” of trends, according to RealtyTrac, which released the report Thursday. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, foreclosure activity increased in 54 percent of the nation’s 212 metropolitan areas with populations of 200,000 or more, but activity was down from a year ago in the majority of the metro areas. 

In a news release, Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, called the numbers “an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets.’’

Of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, Pittsburgh recording the highest increase in first-quarter foreclosure activity: up 49 percent from the last quarter of 2011. Portland, Ore., reported the greatest decrease: down 28 percent.

The highest foreclosure rate for all metropolitan areas -- one in every 60 housing units -- was reported in Stockton, Calif. The top 20 included two Illinois cities: Rockford ranked 16th, with a rate of one in every 104 housing units, and Chicago was 17th, with one in every 107 housing units.

The full report is available on the RealtyTrac website.

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.