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Glimmer of hope? Foreclosure filings down in January

By Staff | Feb 11, 2010

The number of foreclosure filings in Florida decreased for the month of January, according to statistics released by RealtyTrac, an online resource for foreclosure properties.
Florida still ranked fourth in all 50 states, with 1 in every 187 homes currently in foreclosure.
The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area still ranks in the top 10 in the nation, with 1 in every 121 homes currently in foreclosure.
With prices at all time lows, (Lee County was recently recognized as having some of the most affordable home prices in the world) and foreclosures seemingly on the decline, 2010 could be beginning of a turn around for the real estate industry.
But one local real estate executive is still being cautious, saying the number might instead represent a tale of two different worlds.
Dave Diaz, chief operating officer for Carney Properties and Investments Inc., thinks that while affordability is positive, the economy hasn’t improved to the point where that affordability is helpful to the person struggling with those economic conditions.
“If you’re the out-of-state buyer with cash, this is a fantastic time for you. But if you’re a local trying to make a living, it’s a lot different,” Diaz said.
Like most people, Diaz is hoping the worst of the real estate crash has passed on, but looking six months ahead he thinks there’s another major wave of foreclosures coming.
He suspects there’s a lot of people who signed five year adjustable rate mortgages in 2005 that haven’t been hit with adjustable rates yet.
He also is looking at higher end homes, doctors and lawyers whose incomes sustained their lifestyles. But as those incomes are now facing declines, the market could be looking at a whole slew of high end properties.
“It’s going to be harder and harder,” Diaz said. “Now we’re down to the real people … those filings that are still there are the real people. That’s going to be tough. And the consequences of those solutions are going to be tough, too.”
Another Realtor is taking the opposite approach on the numbers, saying the decline is a sign of the area’s potential recovery.
Paula Hellenbrand from Encore Realty said she generally felt the market hit rock bottom, and there’s no where to go but up.
“The fact that the numbers are declining is a very positive sign. Hopefully we’ve made a turn in our economy,” Hellenbrand said. “I can’t say I’m not surprised, I sensed we were at the bottom some time ago.”
Zillow.com, another national real estate tracker, released a list of markets in, or likely to, “double dip” in terms of home values. Zillow defines a “double dip” as a decline in value over two quarters following a period of recovery or stabilization.
According to Zillow, “In one in five, or 29 of the 143 markets tracked, home values have flattened or begun to decrease again after showing at least five consecutive monthly increases in 2009 — early signs of what could be a ‘double-dip.'”
Cape Coral/Fort Myers is not among the markets listed.