South Florida has relinquished its ranking as the nation’s top spot for foreclosures.
After posting the No. 1 foreclosure rate for two consecutive months, the metro area covering Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties fell to third in April, according to RealtyTrac Inc.
One in every 269 homes in the tri-county region was in some stage of foreclosure last month, RealtyTrac said. Akron, Ohio, ranked first, at one in 211 homes, and Ocala was second at one in 225 homes.
The Irvine, Calif.-based listing firm monitors public records for three types of foreclosure filings: new cases, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.
South Florida had 9,127 total filings in April, up slightly from a year earlier, but new cases declined by 35 percent, said Daren Blomquist, a spokesman for RealtyTrac.
“It appears that lenders have caught up with these delayed foreclosures,” he said. “Banks are pushing through the backlog, so we’re getting closer to seeing a resolution with these distressed homes.”
Foreclosures mounted across the country during the housing bust. But some lenders held back on filings starting in late 2010 over concerns about possible paperwork errors.
While Florida last month had the nation’s second-highest foreclosure rate after Nevada, filings are down sharply across the Sunshine State since the 2009 peak, Blomquist said.
Florida had the top foreclosure rate for six months in a row until being surpassed by Nevada in March.
More than 24,600 Florida homes were in the foreclosure process last month, down slightly from a year earlier, according to RealtyTrac.
It takes an average of 893 days to complete a foreclosure in Florida, the third-longest time frame in the nation after New York (1,089 days) and New Jersey (1002), RealtyTrac said.
Florida lawmakers have passed a bill that would speed up foreclosures, forcing homeowners to respond more quickly to filings and giving homeowner’s associations more power in the process.
Gov. Rick Scott still must review the legislation, which also requires lenders to prove they have the right to foreclose before they file a case and reduces the amount of time banks can recover a mortgage deficiency from five years to one.
“There is so much in the bill to like,” said Donna DiMaggio Berger, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer for homeowner’s associations. “Our fingers are crossed.”
Opponents say the bill restricts homeowners’ due process rights. “It creates a presumption of guilt on the homeowner,” said Roy Oppenheim, a foreclosure defense lawyer in Weston.
© 2013 Sun-Sentinel
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