Data show Florida’s housing market still healing slowly

Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald

By Martha Brannigan

Published November 16, 2012


New data show foreclosure starts down and the number of underwater mortgages also declining, but in both cases Florida is still worse off than the rest of the nation.


New data on home foreclosures and negative home equity illustrate that Florida’s battered housing market is continuing to inch toward recovery but remains far from healthy.

Foreclosure starts in Florida fell 16.6 percent in October from a year earlier to 12,712, according to RealtyTrac, a real estate firm based in Irvine, Calif. Foreclosure starts declined 13.8 percent in October from September, the firm said.

The drop in new foreclosure filings – which follows 11 consecutive months of increases – 'could signal that the numbers may be getting to a plateau,' in Florida, said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. 

While fewer Florida homeowners are facing that initial grim news that lenders are moving to take their homes, Florida logged the highest foreclosure rate in the nation in October for the second month in a row. One of every 312 Florida housing units in October got some type of foreclosure filing, ranging from default notices to scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, RealtyTrac said. 
That put Florida at more than twice the national average for foreclosure filings, which showed one of every 706 housing units receiving some type of foreclosure filing in October.

Florida has been among the states hit hardest by the housing downturn. And Florida foreclosures are handled in the courts, where proceedings typically drag out longer than in states that handle them in administrative proceedings.

The number of completed foreclosures — when a lender takes possession of a property – rose 1.63 percent in Florida in October from a year earlier.

At the county level, foreclosure filings in Miami-Dade fell 16.9 percent in October from a year earlier and were down 40.7 percent year over year in Broward.

Separately, new data from Zillow show that the percentage of mortgaged homes in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area that have negative equity continued to decline, dropping to 41.4 percent in the third quarter from 43.7 percent in the second quarter. That’s still well above the national average.
Nationwide, the percentage of mortgaged homes that were underwater fell to 28.2 percent in the third quarter from 30.9 percent in the prior quarter, according to Zillow, a real estate data firm in Seattle.

With so many homes underwater in South Florida, the inventory of homes and condos listed for sale has plunged sharply this year, even as prices have shown solid gains from their recession lows.
South Florida real estate brokers say a lack of housing inventory is among their biggest issues.