(NEW YORK) -- While the number of foreclosures in the nation has fallen to half the peak rate of the crisis, people are still losing their homes to banks in certain regions at high rates.
From January 2007 -- shortly after the housing bubble burst -- through Sept. 2012, about one in 29 housing units have been foreclosed (or about 4.5 million out of 131 million housing units), according to foreclosure data firm RealtyTrac.
In Sept. 2012, there were 180,000 housing units with foreclosure filings. During the peak of the foreclosure crisis -- March 2010 -- there were 367,000 properties with a foreclosure filing.
However, Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said a "normal" housing market will have about 75,000 properties with foreclosure filings.
"We have more than halfway back to normal," he said.
California is still mired in foreclosures, as the seven cities with the highest foreclosure rates using data from Sept. 2012 are all in the Golden State.
"It speaks to the depth of the housing crisis in those markets," Blomquist said.
The business of foreclosures has evolved since the crisis began as well. Banks are pushing fewer distressed loans through foreclosure, instead encouraging short sales.
"It's a different way of dealing with distressed loans than in the past," he said.
As a result, there has been a 45 percent increase in short sales during the first five months of 2012, compared with the same period in 2011.
RealtyTrac has measured the average time it takes from when a bank starts a foreclosure to when a property is foreclosed. Nationwide, that process is 380 days. In Illinois and New York, that process takes close to 700 days.
Two metropolitan areas in Illinois are showing higher foreclosure rates, but that's mostly because there is a lag in data there. In that state, a foreclosure's legal proceedings tend to take longer.
Here are the metropolitan areas with the 10 highest foreclosure rates:
1. Stockton, Calif.: One in every 67 homes in foreclosure
2. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.: One in every 73 homes in foreclosure
3. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.: One in every 78 homes in foreclosure
4. Modesto, Calif.: One in every 79 homes in foreclosure
5. Merced, Calif.: One in every 83 homes in foreclosure
6. Bakersfield, Calif.: One in every 87 homes in foreclosure
7. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, Calif.: One in every 96 homes in foreclosure
8. Rockford, Ill.: One in every 98 homes in foreclosure
9. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill.: One in every 98 homes in foreclosure
10. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.: One in every 100 homes in foreclosure
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