It's that time of year when ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night have trick-or-treaters trembling in their boots. However, this Halloween, nothing is quite as frightening as our nation's housing market.
In the past couple of years, Americans have been inundated with bone-chilling images of eerie boarded up homes in abandoned ghost towns across the country. A nasty witch's brew of economic turmoil, soaring unemployment rates and more stringent lending standards caused Americans homeowners to collectively lose $3.3 trillion in property value last year. (Learn more about the current real estate problems in Who Is To Blame For The Subprime Crisis?)

Of course, some areas have witnessed much more terrifying housing markets than others. So, what U.S. cities win the prize for the creepiest, most foreclosure-ridden neighborhoods? If you're looking for a spooky spot to celebrate Halloween, look no further than these scary American communities, which boast the most horrifying foreclosure rates in the country. (Learn more in Saving Your Home From Foreclosure.)

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
    Typically known for gambling, fun and good old fashioned excess, Las Vegas has taken on a more sinister reputation as of late. With one in every 13 homes subject to foreclosure filing in the first six months of 2009, Las Vegas has the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S., based on a July RealtyTrac report. The nightmarish rate in Vegas, which has grown by 56% since the first half of 2008, is six times the national foreclosure average (one in 84). Yikes!

  2. Cape Coral-Ft. Myers, Florida
    This beautiful Southwest Florida community known for its pristine beaches and stunning Gulf of Mexico views, has transformed into somewhat of a spooky seaside ghost town. The Cape Coral-Ft. Myers area has the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation with one in 14 homes subject to foreclosure filing, according to RealtyTrac.

  3. Merced, California
    Merced, California is the third scariest American neighborhood, with one in 15 homes facing terrifying times. While this ranking is certainly spine-tingling, Merced has actually seen an improvement since April, when it was ranked number two with one in 24 homes facing foreclosure.

  4. Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario, California
    These typically sunny California communities have fallen in the ominous shadow of countless foreclosure signs. Ranked number four in foreclosures, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area has a 5.73 foreclosure rate with one in 17 homes in trouble.

    As a matter of fact, California dominates the frightening foreclosure list, with six cities in the top 10 foreclosure markets. Next in line comes Stockton, California at number five, followed by Modesto, Bakersfield and Vallejo-Fairfield at numbers six, seven and eight. But we'll leave California alone for now, and move onto some other scary states.

  5. Phoenix, Mesa, and Scottsdale, Arizona
    This formerly popular, sun-drenched retirement destination has given way to a ghostly district filled with fearsome foreclosure signs. Ranked at number 9 in foreclosures, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area has a bloodcurdling 4.4 foreclosure rate with one in 22 houses subject to foreclosure filing.

  6. Detroit, Michigan
    Detroit ranked highest in the nation in RealtyTrac's 2006 and 2007 foreclosure reports, but the city has had some relief in the past year. However, while Motor City has seen a decrease in its foreclosure rate, it continues to rank among the top 50 metro areas.

    Not to mention that Detroit property values have fallen off a cliff. As a matter of fact, the average sales price of a Detroit house in December 2008 was $7,500 according to Realcomp, a listing service. You read that right: That's $7,500 with two zeros, not three.

    The disturbing images that haunt the metro area also make Motown a notably creepy community. As you stroll through Detroit, it's not rare to find street after street of boarded up, collapsing homes overgrown with weeds alongside burned out, abandoned buildings with shattered windows. Some brave visitors say it's like a scene straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Now that's the stuff of Halloween nightmares.

So, this Halloween, just remember that there are scarier things than the ghouls and goblins prowling your neighborhood. If someone could dress up like the American real estate market, they would have the most frightening costume of all. (For more on foreclosures, check out Battling Foreclosure: The HOPE NOW Alliance Strategy and Short Sales And Foreclosures: When It's Time To Move On.)

Related Articles
  1. Investing News

    Today's Sell-off: Are We in a Margin Liquidation?

    If we're in market liquidation, is it good news or bad news? That party depends on your timeframe.
  2. Credit & Loans

    New Rules May Make It Easier to Get a Mortgage

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have come to terms with lenders on how to solve mortgage disputes. This could be good news for people with lower credit ratings.
  3. Retirement

    Roth IRAs Tutorial

    This comprehensive guide goes through what a Roth IRA is and how to set one up, contribute to it and withdraw from it.
  4. Stock Analysis

    Are U.S. Stocks Still the Place To Be in 2016?

    Understand why U.S. stocks are absolutely the place to be in 2016, even though the year has gotten off to an awful start for the market.
  5. Investing News

    U.S. Recession Without a Yield Curve Warning?

    The inverted yield curve has correctly predicted past recessions in the U.S. economy. However, that prediction model may fail in the current scenario.
  6. Retirement

    Best Mortgage Companies Friendly to Retirees

    If you’re no longer in the workforce and need a loan to buy a home, which companies are the most welcoming? Plus, good news about qualifying for a loan.
  7. Credit & Loans

    Don't Get Overcharged for Your Mortgage

    Don't pay more for a mortgage than necessary. Here’s a quick look at the different categories and how to be sure you're getting the best deal.
  8. Credit & Loans

    What is an Alt-A Mortgage?

    Called "liar loans" for their low documentation requirements, Alt-A mortgages were hot until the subprime crisis. Now Wall Street wants to bring them back.
  9. Investing

    Retirees: 7 Lessons from 2008 for the Next Crisis

    When the last big market crisis hit, many retirees ran to the sidelines. Next time, there are better ways to manage your portfolio.
  10. Economics

    The 2007-08 Financial Crisis In Review

    Subprime lenders began filing for bankruptcy in 2007 -- more than 25 during February and March, alone.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is a derivative?

    A derivative is a contract between two or more parties whose value is based on an agreed-upon underlying financial asset, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is after-hours trading? Am I able to trade at this time?

    After-hours trading (AHT) refers to the buying and selling of securities on major exchanges outside of specified regular ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do FHA loans require escrow accounts?

    Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans require escrow accounts for property taxes, homeowners insurance and mortgage ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Do FHA loans have prepayment penalties?

    Unlike subprime mortgages issued by some conventional commercial lenders, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans do not ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Can FHA loans be refinanced?

    Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans can be refinanced in several ways. According to the U.S. Department of Housing ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can FHA loans be used for investment property?

    Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans were created to promote homeownership. These loans have lower down payment requirements ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Liquidation Margin

    Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
  2. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  3. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  4. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  5. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
Trading Center