IRVINE, Calif. – Sept. 2013  Florida foreclosures dropped dramatically in RealtyTrac’s latest report for August. Overall foreclosure activity dropped 43 percent, and foreclosure starts – homes that received a first notice – dropped 54 percent year-to-year.

Nationally, RealtyTrac reports that national foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – decreased 2 percent from the previous month and 34 percent year-to-year, the 35th consecutive month where foreclosure activity has decreased on an annual basis. One in every 1,019 U.S. housing units had some kind of foreclosure filing activity during the month.

Some experts say the Florida drop relates, at least in part, to a bill passed during the 2013 session of the Florida Legislature to ease the court burden of foreclosures in the state. St. Petersburg foreclosure attorney Matthew Weidner tells the Tampa Tribune that mortgage servicers and banks now have more trouble proving that they own a mortgage, which the legislation requires.

That could mean lenders are doing more prep work before filing foreclosure paperwork, which would impact the foreclosure numbers. However, RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist says it’s too early to know the impact of Florida’s new foreclosure law.

In addition, Florida is not the only state to see a dramatic drop in foreclosure numbers.

Report findings

• Florida is no longer No. 1 for its foreclosure rate, slipping to the No. 2 spot behind Nevada. Ohio, Maryland and Delaware round out the top five.

• Florida cities accounted for six of the 10 highest metropolitan foreclosure rates – but that’s down from nine of the top 10 the previous month.

• Some Florida cities, while still in the top 20, logged fewer foreclosures year-to-year. Florida cities in the top 20 include: 1) Port St. Lucie (foreclosures up 218% year-to-year), 2) Jacksonville (down 2.2%), 4) Miami (down 18%), 5) Ocala (up 42%), 6) Tampa-St. Petersburg (down 11.64%), 9) Orlando-Kissimmee (down 27%), 14) Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville (down 33%), 15) Naples-Marco Island (up 17%) and 18) Cape Coral (down 41%).

• REO activity increased in Florida 48 percent to a seven-month high. Nationally, REO activity increased month-to-month in 26 states and was up year-to-year in 23 states.

• The year-to-year decrease in Florida foreclosure activity was driven primarily by a 65 percent decrease in foreclosure starts, dropping those to the lowest level since RealtyTrac began issuing its report at the state level in April 2005.

• Foreclosure auctions in Florida, however, increased 39 percent from a year ago, and bank repossessions increased 48 percent from a year ago.

• A total of 55,775 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process during August, down 44 percent from a year ago and the lowest level since December 2005.

• Foreclosure starts in August decreased year-to-year in 38 states, including both non-judicial states such as Colorado (down 80 percent), Arizona (down 65 percent), Washington (down 65 percent), California (down 57 percent), and Michigan (down 55 percent), and also judicial states such as Illinois (down 66 percent), Massachusetts (down 66 percent), Florida (down 65 percent), Indiana (down 43 percent), and Wisconsin (down 39 percent).

• Foreclosure starts increased month-to-month in 17 states, including Nevada (up 226 percent), Ohio (up 44 percent), Maryland (up 24 percent), California (up 12 percent), and New York (up 8 percent).

• Bank repossessions (REO) in August increased 6 percent from the previous month but were still down 25 percent from a year ago. REO activity nationwide has increased on a month-to-month basis in three of the last four months, reaching a five-month high in August.

“The foreclosure floodwaters have receded in most parts of the country, but lenders and communities continue to clean up the damage left behind, which means the recent uptick in bank repossessions is a trend that will likely continue into next year,” said Blomquist. “Meanwhile foreclosure flash floods will continue to hit some markets over the next few months as delayed foreclosure starts are quickly pushed into the pipeline. This was the case with the jump in Nevada foreclosure starts in August.”

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

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