Foreclosures increased in the first three months of the year from the previous quarter but are down compared to a year ago, according to RealtyTrac.
But this year's landmark settlement over robo-signing at the nation's largest banks have many experts unsure of how to predict future foreclosure trends.
"First quarter metro foreclosure trends were a mixed bag," said Brandon Moore, RealtyTrac's chief executive in a statement. He called the data "an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets."
RealtyTrac found quarterly foreclosure activity was up in 114 of the country's 212 large metro areas, spiking 49% in Pittsburgh, for example. Portland saw the largest quarterly decrease, with a 28% tumble in foreclosures, compared to a 26% fall in Las Vegas.
In year-over-year comparisons, however, 64% of regions encountered lowered foreclosure activity. Las Vegas foreclosures were down 61% compared to the first quarter of 2011, for example.
Stockton, Calif., had the highest overall percentage of foreclosures in the country, with its one-in-60 rate more than three times the national average. But the 3,912 properties that had foreclosure filings in the area represent a 13% drop from the fourth quarter and 19% slide year-over-year.
Modesto's foreclosure rate was only slightly lower than Stockton's. Ten other cities in California also had among the 20 highest foreclosure rates, with Riverside-San Bernardino, Vallejo-Fairfield, Merced, Sacramento and Bakersfield rounding out the top seven spots.