Foreclosure activity slowed in May in Las Vegas and statewide, according to new data released Wednesday.
Nevada moved from No. 1 to No. 3 in the U.S. foreclosure ranking, and Las Vegas moved from No. 7 to No. 15 among large metro areas, according to RealtyTrac, of Irvine, Calif., which tracks foreclosures nationwide.
Despite the improvements, foreclosure rates remain high locally.
In May, one in every 639 homes nationally was in foreclosure. In Nevada, one in every 313 homes was in foreclosure. That number rose to one in every 269 homes in Las Vegas, RealtyTrac found.
Even so, filings were down 3.9 percent in Nevada and 7.6 percent in Las Vegas compared to April.
Declines are even more pronounced compared to a year ago. The number of foreclosures statewide and in Las Vegas fell 66 percent since May 2011, largely because of a new state law that requires stricter documentation for foreclosures. The law has prompted banks to agree to short sales in many cases rather than pursue foreclosures.
In short sales, struggling homeowners can sell their homes for less than what is owed on the mortgage.
In addition, the state and federal governments are promoting programs in which qualified underwater borrowers can receive principal reductions when refinancing.
With the decline in foreclosures, the inventory of homes for sale has been shrinking and prices have edged upwards, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported earlier this month. The median price of an existing home sold locally was $128,000 in May, up 1.6 percent from May 2011.
Despite the declines in Nevada, foreclosure activity increased nationwide from April, RealtyTrac said. Almost 206,000 U.S. properties were in foreclosure in May, up 9 percent from the previous month but down 4 percent from May 2011, according to RealtyTrac. Georgia led the nation, followed by Arizona, Nevada and California.
''U.S. foreclosure activity has now decreased on a year-over-basis for 20 straight months including May, but the jump in May foreclosure starts shows that it’s going to be a bumpy ride down to the bottom of this foreclosure cycle,'' RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore said in a statement.
Another potential sticking spot for Las Vegas is the fact that five of the city’s biggest tourism feeder markets ranked among the worst metro areas for foreclosure. They are Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.; Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.