Florida foreclosure activity dropped last year, but the state still finished 2010 with the second most filings in the country.
Nationally, a record 2.9 million properties — a 2 percent jump from 2009 — were flagged with foreclosure filings in 2010. Statewide, the numbers dropped more than 6 percent to 485,286 from 516,711 last year, according to a RealtyTrac report released today.
For just December, the filing activity dropped 22 percent in the state and nearly 34 percent in the Tampa Bay area. Still, nearly 65,000 Tampa Bay homes — almost 5 percent of all area households — received foreclosure filings in 2010.
RealtyTrac attributed the December decrease to the foreclosure moratorium that several lenders imposed on themselves temporarily in September and October, amid allegations that thousands of documents were signed improperly.
Is there a glimmer of hope in 2011? Not likely.
RealtyTrac's chief executive officer, James J. Saccacio, said the December dip wasn't good news for the new year.
"Many of the foreclosure proceedings that were stopped in late 2010 — which we estimate may be as high as a quarter million — will likely be restarted and add to the numbers in early 2011," he said.
Five states — California, Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Michigan — accounted for 51 percent of all foreclosures in 2010.
The numbers were much lower just a few years ago. In 2005, the nation recorded 885,000 foreclosure filings, about 122,000 of which were in Florida.
University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith said it could take several more years for the housing market to fully recover. He said the monthly, quarterly and yearly foreclosure numbers will not improve until jobs are created and unemployment drops.
"Those two fates are intertwined," he said. "There's a lot of healing that needs to be done in those markets."
Thousands of foreclosure cases still clog bay area courts.
No magic wand exists to solve the foreclosure problems, said Matthew Weidner, a St. Petersburg lawyer who focuses on foreclosures. The news, he said, is the same each month, even as banks temporarily stopped foreclosures.
The problem, he stressed, will not subside until economic issues are solved.
"Nothing is on the horizon to address that," Weidner said. "We just keep kicking the can down the field."
Mark Puente can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8459.