Las Vegas and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., led U.S. metropolitan areas in foreclosures in the first half of the year as unemployment and falling home prices forced home-loan defaults, RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

The Las Vegas area had the highest rate of foreclosure filings, with 7.5% of households receiving a default or auction notice or being seized by a lender. That rate was six times the national average. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers region, on Florida's Gulf Coast, was second, with a rate of 7.2%.

"Foreclosure activity continued its upward trajectory nationwide and in the majority of metro areas in the first half of the year," James Saccacio, the chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a press release. "While some of the markets that had the highest saturation of foreclosures over the past few years have seen declining rates, new markets like Provo, Utah, and Boise, Idaho, have seen large increases."

Six of the nation's top 10 metro areas for foreclosure rates were in California, according to RealtyTrac. Merced was the highest in California and third in the nation with a 6.9% rate of foreclosure filings. California's unemployment rate was 11.6% in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The California metro areas of Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Stockton, Modesto, Bakersfield and Vallego-Fairfield were fourth through eighth on the RealtyTrac list.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.