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10 Worst of the Worst in 2012

BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- There has been a lot to celebrate during the early months of this year.

The Dow is up, finally cracking 13,000 again. Unemployment is creeping downward, car sales are booming, consumer spending has risen and even home values have started to stabilize in some markets.

It may be premature to pop that post-recession champagne. There's lots going on in 2012 in competition for "worst" in various categories.

It may still be premature to pop that post-recession champagne, however. The following is a look at some bad news in various categories and a tally of "the worst" so far in 2012.

The housing market may be showing some signs of life, but defaults and foreclosures still run rampant.

According to statistics culled by RealtyTrac, an online marketplace of foreclosure properties, Nevada, Arizona and California had the top state foreclosure rates through last year and heading into this one.

Roughly one out of every 16 Nevada housing units had at least one foreclosure filing last year, giving it the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the fifth consecutive year, despite a 31% decrease in foreclosure activity from 2010. Nevada foreclosure activity also dropped 35% from the third quarter to the fourth last year, "driven primarily by a 70% decrease in default notices, the result of a new law that took effect in October requiring lenders to file an additional affidavit before starting the foreclosure process," RealtyTrac explains in a report.

Arizona registered the nation's second-highest state foreclosure rate for the third year in a row, with 4.14% of its housing units (one in 24) with at least one foreclosure filing in 2011.

California, although seeing a similar late-year drop in foreclosure auctions, had the third-highest foreclosure rate for all of 2011 (one in every 31 housing units).

Other states with 2011 foreclosure rates among the highest in the nation were Georgia, Utah, Michigan, Colorado and Idaho.

On a more local, metro-area level, Las Vegas (with 7.4% of its housing stock) had held down the top foreclosure rate for the year among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more.

RealtyTrac found that 10 out of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates were in California cities -- Stockton, Modesto, Riverside-San Bernardino, Merced, Bakersfield, Visalia and Ventura.

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