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Florida Set a New Foreclosure Record in 2009

Foreclosures in Florida leaped 34 percent in 2009 as the state posted the third highest rate in the nation for the year, according to data released Thursday by RealtyTrac, which follows the national real estate market.
 
Despite slowing in intensity in late 2009, Florida’s foreclosure rate continued to outpace all other states except Nevada and Arizona in year-to-year comparisons, with one in 17 homes receiving some type of foreclosure notice in the 12 months ending Dec. 31.

Meanwhile the total number of foreclosure filings for the year - 516,711 properties – was eclipsed only by California (632,573) as the state continues to recover from a building boom gone bust.

Nationally, observers said the foreclosure rates were high but could have gone higher if not for intervention at the state and national levels. The sheer number of foreclosure claims also slowed the process as the flood of paperwork deluged the system and pushed many proceedings off into 2010. 

“After peaking in July with over 361,000 homes receiving a foreclosure notice, we saw four straight monthly decreases driven primarily by short-term factors: trial loan modifications, state legislation extending the foreclosure process and an overwhelming volume of inventory clogging the foreclosure pipeline,” James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement..

“In the long term a massive supply of delinquent loans continues to loom over the housing market, and many of those delinquencies will end up in the foreclosure process in 2010 and beyond as lenders gradually work their way through the backlog,” Saccacio said.

California, Florida, Arizona and Illinois accounted for 50 percent of national total, with more than 1.4 million properties receiving a foreclosure filing in 2009 in those states alone. Nevada had the highest percentage of foreclosures, with more than one in 10 homes receiving notices.

Florida’s fourth quarter foreclosure activity was down nearly 9 percent from the previous quarter despite a 4 percent monthly increase in foreclosure activity in December.

Florida lawmakers are expected to address the housing issue when they return in March. Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, told the News Service that lawmakers are likely to consider targeting state housing money on existing homes.

Though strapped for cash, the state’s affordable housing trust fund could be used to match qualified homeowners with houses. Housing officials have been working since 2007 to remove a $243 million cap on the state’s affordable housing trust fund, which is funded through a tax on real estate transactions.

Lawmakers last year used the money to pay for other programs as the state battled a budget shortfall. They are expected to face a gap of more than $2.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

“I’d like to do as much as possible in focusing on moving the existing housing stock until we stabilize the current situation,” Alexander said.

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