Jacksonville’s foreclosure rate No. 4 in U.S.: Florida has highest rate of all states
While many people are optimistic about a recovery in the housing market, Florida became the king of the foreclosure market in 2012, according to a report by the Florida Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research.
Citing data from market data firm RealtyTrac, the report said Florida had the highest foreclosure rate of any state in 2012, with 3.11 percent of all housing units receiving at least one foreclosure filing in November.
That's the first time Florida had the highest foreclosure rate since the housing crisis began, it said.
The number of foreclosure starts in Florida jumped 20 percent from one year ago, it said.
Seven Florida metropolitan areas ranked in the top 10 in the nation for foreclosure rates, including Jacksonville at No. 4, the report said.
About 11 percent of all Florida residential loans were in foreclosure in November.
The worst foreclosure rates, by county, came in South Florida, with Okeechobee County the highest at 16.8 percent, followed by Miami-Dade County at 15.7 percent.
Meanwhile, St. Johns County had one of the lowest foreclosure rates in the state, at 5.9 percent.
Statewide, there were 305,766 properties in Florida in some stage of foreclosure or bank-owned, according to the report. That represented 20 percent of the entire nation's total.
The report also highlighted the foreclosure backlog in Florida. At the beginning of 2007, it took an average of 169 days, or about six months, for a home to go through the foreclosure process. That jumped to 853 days by the end of 2012, or more than two years.
The national average was 414 days.
The report said the process is longer in Florida and in 19 other states that mandate "judicial foreclosures," in which the lender goes through the court system to foreclose on a loan. The other states do not require lenders to go through courts to start foreclosure proceedings.
The report did have some hint of optimism about home values. Although property values have plummeted since the housing crisis began, the trend seems to be turning, it said.
The median sales price for Florida homes in December was 40.3 percent below its peak, but that was an improvement from the 52.7 percent decline in February 2011, the report said.
It also said that while school taxable values fell by 0.88 percent in 2012, the taxable value is expected to show an increase of 0.75 percent this year.
The percentage of underwater homes – homes in which the loan value exceeds the current property value – was 38.3 percent in October, the report said.
"This data has improved over the past year, but still includes about 750,000 homes," it said.
The report had one final note suggesting that the poor state of the foreclosure market could actually spark a turnaround in home construction.
"The 'shadow inventory' of homes that are in foreclosure or delinquent or defaulted mortgages may contain a significant number of 'ghost' homes that are distressed beyond realistic use, in that they have not been physically maintained or are located in distressed pockets that will not come back in a reasonable timeframe," it said.
"This means that the supply has become two-tiered – viable homes and seriously distressed homes," it said. "To the extent that the number of viable homes is limited, new construction may come back quicker than expected."