TAMPA — Florida reclaimed the title of America's foreclosure capital last month, but it's partly because of a positive development: Lenders are taking more homes to foreclosure auctions, the real estate analytics firm RealtyTrac says.
A rush of home investors has created a strong market for foreclosed homes, which is encouraging lenders to sell them through clerk of court auctions, RealtyTrac says. Eventually that should help lenders clear out their huge backlog of homes in foreclosure and those banks already have repossessed.
Florida previously ranked second to Nevada in foreclosures, but the Sunshine State pulled ahead of Nevada in October, according to RealtyTrac, which lists foreclosed homes for sale. One in every 332 homes in Florida last month received some type of foreclosure filing, whether it was an initial foreclosure notice, a notice of court auction or a repossession by a lender. Nevada's foreclosure rate was 1 in 407 homes.
The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area ranked fifth in the country in foreclosures among large metropolitan areas last month, with 1 in 302 homes getting some kind of foreclosure filing.
Things might not be as bad locally as those national rankings suggest.
First, Florida always looks bad in foreclosure rankings because foreclosures here have to wind their way through the court system; some other states have speedier, nonjudicial foreclosures. Those states have cleared their backlog of foreclosures, RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said.
Lenders also seem to be more willing to sell homes in foreclosure lately instead of allowing foreclosures to linger in the court system. In Florida, the number of notices of foreclosure sale — in which lenders schedule a foreclosure auction through the clerk of court — reached a three-year high in October, Blomquist said. Lenders filed 11,606 notices of foreclosure sale in Florida last month.