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Foreclosure rate remains high, but falling

By Staff | Aug 14, 2009

Statistics for local July foreclosures released Thursday reflect the good news/bad news nature of recent economic data: The foreclosure rate is still high, but it is lower than earlier this year.
One in every 64 housing units in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area received a foreclosure filing — a default notice, scheduled auction or bank repossession — in July, according to a report from Realty Trac, a California-based company that tracks foreclosed properties.
That rate, while still more than 5.5 times the national average of one in every 355 housing units, is lower than the metro area’s foreclosure rate of one in every 14 housing units for the first six months of 2009.
The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area’s July rate was also good for fourth among metro areas nationwide, behind Las Vegas, Nevada, Stockton, Calif., and Modesto, Calif.
Lee County Clerk of Courts Charlie Green said foreclosures are decreasing, but his office is having trouble clearing foreclosure cases because of delay tactics on behalf of lenders.
“The filing trend is downward right now,” he said.
After three straight months of decreased foreclosure filings, Green’s office saw a spike in July. There were 1,905 foreclosure filings, compared to 1,653 in June.
Green’s “rocket docket” was designed to put more judges on foreclosure cases in an effort to clear the backlog, but lender representatives are increasingly canceling hearings.
“They may not want to take that property back yet,” he said.
Florida also ranked fourth among states with a foreclosure rate of one in every 154 housing units. Only Nevada, California and Arizona had higher rates.
Nationwide, the foreclosure trend was up, with foreclosures increasing 32 percent from July 2008.
“July marks the third time in the last five months where we’ve seen a new record set for foreclosure activity,” James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of Realty Trac, said in a prepared statement.
Green is hoping a resurgence of economic activity locally will spur home sales, as opposed to investor buys.
“The big worry for me is the lack of quality jobs. We got this inventory we’ve got to get off the books and the sooner the better,” he said.