All 20 of the large metropolitan areas with the highest rates of foreclosures during the first quarter of 2001 were located in the same four states. 

According to the Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report released by RealtyTrac on Thursday, the four, California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona each had at least one metropolitan area with a population of 200,000 at the top of the 206 city list with California accounting for ten positions, Florida seven, Nevada two and Arizona one.   However, 14 of the top 20 areas and eight of the top ten reported a decrease in foreclosure activity from the same quarter in 2009.  At the same time, activity increased over the last year in 159 of the metropolitan areas tracked by the survey and nationwide activity increased by 16 percent.

 "The decreasing foreclosure activity in some of the nation's top foreclosure hot spots in the first quarter is largely the result of government intervention and other non-market influences, and not a sure signal that those areas are out of the woods yet when it comes to foreclosures," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "For example, the federal government's new program designed to encourage short sales, which was launched April 5, may have caused some lenders to delay initiating foreclosure against distressed properties - particularly in hard-hit housing markets where a short sale costs less than a foreclosure."

Las Vegas had the highest foreclosure rate with one in every 28 houses being the subject of a foreclosure filing, a rate of 3.51 percent.  This is 4.9 times the national average. A total of 28,480 housing units received at least one filing during the quarter, an increase of 13 percent from the fourth quarter of 2009 but a decrease of 19 percent from the first quarter of 2009.  

In the second ranked city, Modesto, California, foreclosure activity decreased 13 percent from the first quarter of 2009, but one in every 34 housing units still received a foreclosure filing (2.93 percent). Other California cities in the top 10 were Riverside-San Bernardino at No. 4 (2.82 percent), Stockton at No. 5 (2.77 percent), Merced at No. 6 (2.76 percent), Vallejo-Fairfield at No. 8 (2.41 percent) and Bakersfield at No. 9 (2.33 percent).  

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers area in Florida documented the third highest metro foreclosure rate despite foreclosure activity decreasing nearly 6 percent from the previous quarter and nearly 26 percent in the past year.  One in every 35 housing units received a foreclosure filing (2.82 percent) during the quarter. Orlando-Kissimmee with one in 48 homes receiving a notice (2.30 percent) was number 10.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metro area in Arizona was the nation's seventh most impacted city, with one in every 38 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing (2.63 percent). First quarter foreclosure activity in Phoenix was up 23 percent from the previous quarter and up 9 percent from the first quarter of 2009.

RealtyTrac noted that several cities outside of the Sun Belt saw substantial increases in foreclosure rates in the last year.  This continues a trend of activity spreading to areas that had not previously suffered from the real estate slump.  Columbia, South Carolina, the 99th ranked city, saw an increase in activity of nearly 171 percent year-over-year.  One in every 202 housing units received a foreclosure notice in the first quarter.  Baltimore also saw a big increase with activity up 141 percent but still remains below the national average for foreclosures.   Salt Lake City and Charlotte, North Carolina also saw more than a doubling of their rates.