More than 6,000 properties received at least one foreclosure-related filing last month in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties, according to statistics released today from research firm RealtyTrac Inc.
Merced had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation in April, with one in every 66 households receiving a foreclosure filing during the month, followed by San Joaquin at No. 2 and Stanislaus in third place.
Foreclosure filings include notices of default, notices of trustee sale and properties repossessed by lenders.
Nationwide, 243,353 homes received foreclosure filings in April, up 65 percent from 147,708 in the same month last year and up 4 per- cent since March, RealtyTrac said.
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That's the highest total the company has seen since it started tracking foreclosure activity in January 2005, said Daren Blomquist, the company's marketing and communications manager.
"It looks like we're still trending upward, and we would expect it to get a little worse than a little better," Blomquist said.
The combination of weak housing sales, falling home values, tighter mortgage lending criteria and a slowing U.S. economy has left financially strapped homeowners with fewer options to avoid foreclosure. Many can't find buyers or owe more than their home is worth and can't refinance into an affordable loan.
Blomquist said the Northern San Joaquin Valley continues to be a "hot spot" for foreclosure activity, with the three counties topping state and national lists for foreclosure filings.
Lenders repossessed 2,228 properties in April in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties.
California posted the second-highest state foreclosure rate in April -- behind Nevada -- with one in every 204 households receiving a foreclosure filing during the month, or a total of 64,683.
"Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad news in most areas of California," Blomquist said. But there are a handful of other regions in Texas and Colorado that are starting to rebound from very high foreclosure rates, he said.
"The good news is that this isn't something that will go on forever. It's just hard to predict where that end is going to be," he said.
Buyers can take advantage of the lower prices in the market, but they should be cautious and count on home prices continuing to drop, Blomquist advised.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Christina Salerno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-4574.
TO LEARN MORE
A foreclosure information workshop will be offered from 6 to 9 p.m. today in Patterson's City Council chambers, 1 Plaza, Patterson. For information, call 895-8020.