Downward foreclosure trend about to change

St. Augustine real estate market news is not encouraging since mortgage bankers appear to be lifting their self-imposed foreclosure moratorium and lenders have tentatively restarted their foreclosure processes, according to a report received by Historic City News.

A California-based company that tracks foreclosed properties reported that, in the quarter ending September 30th, one in every nine foreclosures in the nation took place in Florida.

In St. Johns County, 215 foreclosure actions were reported in the most recent month and 1-in-every-402 properties was the subject of a foreclosure filing; having received a foreclosure auction notice or bank repossession.

St. Johns County is in better shape than some areas of the state; where last month the ratio was 1-in-every-130 housing units were the subject of a foreclosure filing — earning Florida the fifth-highest foreclosure rate in the country.

“If a homeowner is served with a foreclosure complaint, the worst thing to do is nothing,” St. Augustine attorney Claude J. Greenfield told Historic City News. “You only have twenty (20) days from the date you are served to file a written response with the court.”

Greenfield, whose practice includes foreclosure defense, said, “If a homeowner misses the twenty-day window, a default may be entered; at which time you may no longer have the opportunity to be heard and your case may be summarily fast tracked to foreclosure sale.”

After the “robo-signing” revelations last October that several law firms had rushed faulty, and sometimes fraudulent, paperwork in an effort to push through foreclosures, lenders backed-off, voluntarily, until they could get a handle on what had occurred.

Although foreclosure activity temporarily lulled, Florida is now part of a nationwide trend in resurging foreclosure activity — and St. Johns County will be no exception.

“The temporary downward trend is about to change direction — with foreclosure activity slowly beginning to ramp back up,” said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac. “Foreclosures will continue to depress home values and keep economic growth sputtering.”

Adding to the problem is the length of time foreclosure cases spend in the system. According to the RealtyTrac report, foreclosed properties in the third quarter in Florida took an average 749 days to process – more than two years.

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