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New foreclosure figures down from last quarter

By Staff | Apr 22, 2009

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area again ranked high on the list of the nation’s foreclosure rates for the first quarter of 2009, with one in every 26 homes receiving a foreclosure filing, but foreclosure numbers were down from the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a report released today from Realty Trac, a California-based company that monitors foreclosure statistics.
There were 13,875 foreclosure filings, or 3.85 percent of all housing units, in the metro area in the first three months of 2009. That is a 5.52 percent decrease from the fourth quarter of 2008, but a 36.11 percent increase from the first quarter of 2008.
Some local Realtors doubt the slight dip in foreclosures from last quarter signifies a prolonged turnaround.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the tail end of it yet. I still think we’re going to see another wave (of foreclosures) come through,” said Tommy Lee, a Realtor with AA Associates Realty in Cape Coral.
Depressed home prices in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area and others with similar foreclosure statistics are enticing buyers and posting larger numbers of sales.
“Sales activity appears to be increasing in some of these markets as home prices have fallen to levels that are attractive to first-time homebuyers and investors,” said James Saccacio, chief executive officer of Realty Trac, in the report.
In February, there were 875 existing single-family homes sold locally, a 97 percent increase from the same time last year, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. The median sales price, however, fell to $97,500, a 54 percent drop from February 2008.
The Florida Association of Realtors will release statistics for March on Thursday.
“Our prices are so low it’s attracting everyone back to the market,” said Chris Porter, co-owner of Cape Realty. “The foreclosures that are hitting the market are selling as soon as they hit.”
Lee County Clerk of Court Charlie Green is trying to push more foreclosures through the system. In December he instituted a “rocket docket,” putting more judges on foreclosure cases.
The attempt to rush the foreclosures through the system appears to be working. Green’s office has cleared more foreclosure cases than have been filed in three out of the four months since the rocket docket began.
“The bell curve is definitely turning around,” Green said.
He also agreed that there is more of a clamor for foreclosed properties, as buyers look to take advantage of bargain home prices unheard of a few years ago.
“It’s a zoo. It’s a business, there’s a lot of people bidding,” Green said.