Foreclosures up again in May from 2008

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, June 11, 2009… One in 148 Florida homes was in foreclosure in May, the third highest rate in the country, according to RealtyTrac, a California-based company that lists foreclosed properties nationwide.

Nearly 59,000 Florida properties were in foreclosure proceedings in May, up 50 percent from May 2008. Of those, 39,500 were initial proceedings brought by lenders. Another 6,000 were being repossessed.

Only Nevada and California had higher foreclosure rates. In Nevada, one out of every 64 homes was in foreclosure.

May was the third highest month on record for foreclosures nationally, and it was the third straight month in which the number of foreclosure filings topped 300,000, the first in the history of the RealtyTrac report.

The number of forecloses nationally fell 6.1 percent in May from April. Florida’s rate dipped 8.8 percent between April and May. But that initial dip may not hold as banks and other lenders ramp up repossessions against homeowners unable to keep up and voluntary programs to put off legal action expire.

“We expect (repossession) activity to spike in the coming months as foreclosure delays and moratoria implemented by various state laws come to an end,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

Florida’s real estate market continues to realign after easy credit and skyrocketing property values sent buyers into a frenzy.

Florida cities accounted for three of the top 10 metro areas with Cape Coral-Fort Myers at No. 6, ( one in 82 housing units), Orlando-Kissimmee at No. 8 (one in 101), and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach at No. 10 (one in 105).

Valerie Saunders, president of the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers, said the market remains chaotic as lenders try to make sense of competing economic messages.

Recent fluctuations in the market have driven rates up a percentage point in the past few weeks, a boost that has shut down the refinancing market.

Further, closings are taking up to 45 days as lenders deal with a backlog of applications with fewer employers.

“There is still a lot of volatility out there,” Saunders said. “It’s hard to get excited about anything until we have some time to see what the trends are.”

By MICHAEL PELTIER
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

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