The housing crunch is leaving many homeowners across the nation in crisis, with almost 80 percent more homes going into some stage of foreclosure in 2007, but the Beehive State is continuing to buck the national trend: Foreclosures in Utah declined nearly 17 percent in 2007 from 2006.

A year-end report released Tuesday by RealtyTrac showed Detroit; Stockton, Calif.; and Las Vegas as the cities with the highest foreclosure rates in the nation among the top 100 metropolitan statistical areas. The Salt Lake City area ranked 52nd in the survey, with 0.98 percent of homes entering some stage of foreclosure, down 16.96 percent from 2006.

"It's understandable, given the strength of our housing market," said Wells Fargo economist Kelly Matthews. "There isn't very much evidence yet that we are seeing deterioration in loan quality, either residential or commercial, in Utah."

Matthews warned, however, that recent data show slowing employment growth in Utah could begin to impact some homeowners around the state.

"With our job growth down, when we begin to see foreclosure and delinquency data for the first quarter of 2008, we'll begin to see some increases," he said.

Detroit registered the highest foreclosure rate among the nation's 100 largest metro areas in the RealtyTrac report, with 4.91 percent of its households entering some stage of foreclosure during the year. The total number of foreclosure filings reported in the Detroit metro area was up 68 percent from 2006.

Stockton, Calif., with 4.87 percent of its households entering some stage of foreclosure during the year, was second. That area's foreclosure rate jumped 271 percent from 2006.

Las Vegas posted the third-highest metro foreclosure rate, with 4.23 percent of its households entering some stage of foreclosure, up 169 percent from 2006. Rounding out the top five were Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., at No. 4 (3.8 percent) and Sacramento, Calif., at No. 5 (3.2 percent).

The study reported the national average foreclosure rate was 1.03 percent, up 79.2 percent from 2006. Among the top 100 metro areas, the mean foreclosure rate was 1.38 percent, up 78.2 percent from 2006.

As for Utah's near future, Matthews said the state will likely avoid the major meltdown experienced in places like California, Nevada and Arizona.

"Even though we're going to feel it, it will probably remain a better picture than the national average," he said.

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