IRVINE, Calif., July 26 (UPI) -- Foreclosure activity rose in nearly 60 percent of the U.S. metropolitan areas in the first half of the year, a private online marketplace said.
RealtyTrac, which monitors foreclosure activity, said 125 metropolitan areas of 212 tracked saw an increase in foreclosure activity January through June.
The firm tracks market activity in cities with a population of 200,000 or more.
RealtyTrac said "despite the increases" from the second half of 2011 to the first half of 2012, a very similar number of cities, 129, posted decreases in foreclosure activity in the first half of the year compared to the first half of 2011.
In the first half of the year California had seven of the 10 cities with the highest foreclosure and 10 of the top 20. Four of the top 20 were in Florida.
The highest foreclosure rate in the country was in Stockton, Calif., which had a foreclosure rate of 2.66 percent of housing units or one in every 38. That was three times the national average, RealtyTrac said.
All of the top five cities on the list are in California, including Modesto with a rate of 2.61 percent, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario with a rate of 2.59 percent, Vallejo-Fairfield at 2.56 percent and Merced at 2.15 percent.
"Increasing foreclosure starts in many local markets helped push total foreclosure activity higher in the first half of this year compared to the second half of 2011," said Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac.
"Those foreclosure starts are welcome news for prospective buyers and real estate brokers in many local markets where a shortage of aggressively priced inventory has been holding up sales activity," he said.