Foreclosure Numbers: Trust Me, Housing Crisis NOT Any Better

Realty Trac
Realty Trac

The new RealtyTrac metro foreclosure report is out today, and that means I have to say a bunch of shocking numbers on TV and then get to hear from all of you that I am skewing the numbers or focusing on the wrong stats. Let’s set it straight once and for all.

The report is chock full of massive percentage increases, like that foreclosure filings in Stockton, CA are up 465% from the third quarter of 2006. Now I realize that in a small market, if just a few houses go into foreclosure, then that makes the percentage increase huge (yes, I did attend 5th grade math class). There are, according to the report, 4,409 properties with foreclosure filings on them in Stockton, far fewer than the 16,079 properties with filings on them in Detroit.

Still, Stockton posts a higher foreclosure “rate” than Detroit, because of its size. That is, there is one foreclosure filing for every 31 households in Stockton, versus one in 33 households in Detroit, again, I reiterate, because of the size. The percentage increase for Detroit over last year is a mere 93%. Why? Because things there were pretty bad last year as well.

But think about it: if you live in a city where one in every 31 houses is either empty or has a big “Foreclosed” sign in front, then you’re probably seeing at least one of those houses every day as you’re doing your daily doings. Talk about an economic confidence-buster.

So what do I glean from all this? Well, in California, Florida, Nevada, all the foreclosure hot spots, rates are going up, number of properties in foreclosure is going up, and it’s all far worse than last year. I counted, and of the top 100 markets in the country, only 16 are actually showing a decrease in foreclosure rates.

No matter how you slice it, the housing crisis is not getting better.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com