LAS VEGAS -- Home foreclosures plummeted in Las Vegas during the first quarter of this year, dropping the metro area to eighth in the nation in foreclosure rates behind seven California communities, RealtyTrac.com reported tonight.
Las Vegas homeowners collectively have been deeper underwater than anyone else but the metro area experienced a 26 percent decline in foreclosures from January through March compared to the fourth quarter of last year, second steepest drop behind Portland, Ore., among the nation's largest cities. Las Vegas ranked fifth in foreclosures in October through December.
Going back to the first quarter of 2011, the foreclosure rate in Las Vegas fell 61.2 percent.
With one new foreclosure notice going out to every 82 housing units in the first quarter, the foreclosure rate in Las Vegas was still nearly triple the national rate of one notice per 230 residences. RealtyTrac counts notices of default, notices of trustee sales and actual bank takeovers of property in its calculations.
For the first quarter, Las Vegas had 2,069 notices of default, 3,381 notices of trustee sales, and 4,742 bank takeovers for a total of 10,192 foreclosure actions.
A major reason for the slowdown in foreclosure activity in Las Vegas is a state law effective last fall that makes it more difficult for mortgage lenders to initiate foreclosures. But that doesn't mean homeowners who are behind on their monthly payments are out of the woods.
Nationally, foreclosure activity increased in the first quarter in 114 of the nation's 212 metro areas with a population of at least 200,000.
"First quarter metro foreclosure trends were a mixed bag," RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore said. "While the majority of metro areas continued to show foreclosure activity down from a year ago, more than half reported increasing foreclosure activity from the previous quarter, an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets."