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Florida foreclosure rate the highest in nation

By Staff | Jan 19, 2013

Florida posted the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate in 2012, with 3.11 percent of housing units (or one in 32) receiving a foreclosure filing during the year, according to a report published by RealtyTrac this week.

Florida also has the highest inventory of foreclosed homes, with 20 percent of the national total, accounted for eight of the top 20 highest metro foreclosure rates in 2012, and it took an average of 853 days (roughly 28 months) to complete a foreclosure, the third-longest in the nation.

However, that hasn’t kept local Realtors having an absolutely bullish approach to the market – as some more localized numbers bring out.

“Foreclosures aren’t anywhere near where they were,” said Michelle Deal of Real Deal Realty. “This year is looking very promising.”

Indeed, the news from the report isn’t all bad. Nationally, foreclosure filings in December were at the lowest level in almost six years.

Statewide, there was a 53 percent increase in filings from 2011, but it was still 42 percent below the more than 485,000 foreclosure filings in 2010, the report released Thursday states.

Further, according to local numbers from the Multiple Listing Service, inventory of single-family homes as of Jan. 1 was 1,717, with 84 of them foreclosures.

In January 2011, there were 3,012 on the market, with 335 foreclosures, 11 percent of the market.

According to Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, the high Florida numbers are attributed to the fact that Florida is a judicial-foreclosure state, meaning the courts handle the process, which is not as streamlined as non-judicial ones.

Blomquist said that lenders are starting to catch up on the backlog of those foreclosures, which could mean a jump in the foreclosure rates early this year.

“A judicial state – Florida – posted the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the first time since the housing crisis began,” Blomquist said. “Although we are past the peak of the foreclosure problem nationally, 2013 is likely to be book-ended by two discrete jumps in foreclosure activity.”

Thomas Gunkelman, branch manager at Coldwell Banker in Cape Coral, concurred to that possibility.

“It’s possible, but when people are looking at these properties they will be at a higher price than 24 months ago,” Gunkelman said. Supply and demand remains the key to all economics.”

Still, Deal said that those homes are slowly coming off the market and banks, unlike in 2009 when they dumped all their foreclosures, which tanked home prices, have put them to market slower.

“There were some errors when they were doing foreclosures. Banks are being more careful making sure there aren’t the liens and titles by pushing everything through,” Deal said. “There’s a better process now. There are more traditional sales, which has helped the local sellers.”

“The foreclosure inventory is much less than it was. We’re not selling as high a percentage of foreclosed home, I know that,” said Thomas Gunkelman, branch manager at Coldwell Banker in Cape Coral.

Gunkelman said the banks are handling foreclosures by essentially renting out properties to large investors for them to rent out to the public.

“The investment firm has plenty of capital and they agree to rent them for a period of time before they put them back out on the market,” Gunkelman said.

The foreclosure process averaged 853 days for the state of Florida, behind only New York and New Jersey. By way of comparison, the average is 414 days, with a non-judicial state such as Delaware taking as little as 145 days.

“The process differs from area to area. It might be just the way they sign off on it whereas here it has to be handled through a judge. Other areas have come up with their own problems.”

Miami ranked fifth-highest in metro foreclosure rates, one of eight metro areas in Florida to be in the Top 20.

Fort Myers/Cape Coral, which many considered the epicenter of the housing collapse, was 18th on the list.

“At one point we were No. 1. A lot of it had to do with condominiums bought preconstruction and investors walked,” Deal said.

RealtyTrac, www.realtytrac.com, is a supplier of U.S. real estate data.