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Florida foreclosure filings trend up as some fear a fall wave awaits


By John Haughey | The Center Square

Gov. Ron DeSantis extended Florida’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium until Oct. 1 last month, delaying what some fear will be a wave of foreclosures across the state once the ban is lifted.

Those fears are justified if trends documented by mortgage date firm ATTOM Data Solutions in its August 2020 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report continue into fall and 2021.

According to ATTOM, which owns RealtyTrac, Florida had the nation’s second-highest foreclosure filing rate in August, with Jacksonville’s foreclosure filing rate the highest for any metro area in the country.

There were 9,889 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions – in August, up 11 percent from July but down 81 percent from August 2019, ATTOM reported, noting that equates to one in every 13,791 housing units nationwide.

While foreclosure activity remains at historically low levels, “there was a significant increase in foreclosure starts in August compared to July," RealtyTrac Executive Vice President Rick Sharga said. "Several states – including Florida and New York – that have had foreclosure moratoria in place have recently loosened some of their restrictions, which may explain the unexpected bump in the monthly numbers."

Florida, with one in every 7,338 housing units receiving a filing in August, had the nation’s second-highest foreclosure filing rate. Only South Carolina, with one in every 6,798 housing units, had a higher rate.

There were 1,274 foreclosure filings in Florida in August, topped only by 1,353 filed in California, which has more than 14 million housing units compared with Florida’s 9.35 million, according to ATTOM.

Among the 220 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with populations of at least 200,000 people, two Florida cities were among the top four – Ocala, one in every 3,283 housing units, and Lakeland, one in every 3,516 housing units.

Among metropolitan areas with populations greater than 1 million, the nation’s worst August foreclosure rate was recorded in Jacksonville, one in every 5,877 housing units.

Miami posted the nation’s fifth-highest rate among metro areas, with one in every 6,757 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing.

Florida also led in foreclosure starts in August. Foreclosure starts were up 24 percent nationally from July, an uptick ATTOM partially attributed to court systems whittling into backlogged cases that piled up during pandemic shutdowns.

"Many courthouses across the country have been closed or have had their caseloads dramatically reduced during the pandemic," Sharga said. "It will be interesting to see if foreclosure starts continue to increase as these courthouses begin to reopen."

Among metropolitan areas with populations greater than 1 million people, those with the greatest number of foreclosure starts in August were New York City (444) and Miami (246).

In seminars addressing how the pandemic has affected Florida’s real estate market, Realtors and other experts have expressed concern about a feared avalanche of foreclosures beginning in October, when DeSantis’ moratorium expires.

As many as 10 percent of Florida mortgages were 30 days or more delinquent in May, according to CoreLogic, significantly higher than the national 7.3 percent average.

Some believe the wave won’t materialize because many vulnerable Floridians are among the 3.7 million enrolled in government and private sector mortgage forbearance programs, according to mortgage data firm Black Knight.

For about 2 million, those programs expire in October. Although a May LendingTree report said nearly 70 percent of those who applied for loan forbearance would have made their payments without it, many Florida Realtors said without a rebound in jobs, mortgage relief efforts won’t help many.

If the pandemic-induced recession continues in Palm Beach County, for instance, Palm Beach Board of Realtors’ attorney Gary Nagle warned last week, “Judgment day is coming.”

Foreclosures, Governor Ron DeSantis, The Center Square


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