Forget the gamblers playing the blackjack tables at the casinos … Homeowners and developers appear to have been the biggest risk-takers in Las Vegas, which tops the list of foreclosure rates for the first quarter of 2009.
According to the recently released RealtyTrac Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report, 4.5 percent of housing units (about one in every 22) in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area received a foreclosure filing during the quarter.
Rounding out the other top five metro areas were Merced, California (4.2 percent); Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida (3.9); Stockton, California (3.7); and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California (3.5). Of the top ten metro areas for foreclosure activity, six were located in California. Two were in Florida, and one each in Arizona and Nevada.
Las Vegas’ rate is four times the national average foreclosure rate.
The area’s woes stem from an oversupply of housing units that resulted from overly optimistic assumptions about demand. As Las Vegas boomed over the last decade, its economy – including housing stock – felt a surge almost akin to California’s gold rush in the mid-1800s.
Historically, gaming has been a recession-proof industry. But even the glitz, glamour and allure of Las Vegas casinos couldn’t stand up to the weakened economy.
But the news isn’t all bad, particularly in some areas of the country.
On the other end of the spectrum, seven metro areas posted foreclosure rates lower than half a percentage point. Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont and Utica-Rome, New York tied for the lowest foreclosure rate (0.01 percent), followed by Lincoln, Nebraska; Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, Louisiana; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama (0.02); Charleston, West Virginia (0.03); and Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, Washington (0.04).