For months, experts have predicted that a second wave of foreclosures would hit Tampa Bay and the rest of Florida. Now, it appears they were right.
Initial foreclosure notices in June jumped nearly 61 percent over the previous month in the bay area and 24 percent statewide, according to a RealtyTrac report released today. Lenders delivered initial notices to 3,390 homeowners around Tampa Bay and 23,769 in Florida.
Putting the best face on those dismaying numbers, the June foreclosure figures for the bay area are still down nearly 50 percent compared to June 2010.
Filings in many other Florida regions also climbed last month. Sarasota-Bradenton jumped 34 percent; Miami-Fort Lauderdale, 14 percent; Orlando, 34 percent; and Ocala, 45 percent, the report said. The filings for those areas are also lower than June 2010.
Scott Brown, chief economist with Raymond James in St. Petersburg, cautioned not to put too much weight into figures for one month.
But "it's not a good sign," he said. "The worst is still behind us. It's going to be years before a full recovery."
Before June, filings had dropped in six of seven months.
The talk of a second wave of Florida foreclosures increased in the fall when three huge law firms collapsed amid allegations of sloppy and fraudulent documentation, stalling thousands of cases.
Experts said that, combined with the shadow inventory — homes for which mortgages are 90 days late and nearing foreclosure — would trigger a second wave of filings and depress the housing market even more.
James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, estimates that 1 million foreclosure actions should have taken place this year but will be pushed back to 2012. He blamed the increased filings on the paperwork delays in courthouses.
"This casts an ominous shadow over the housing market, where recovery is unlikely to happen until the current and forthcoming inventory of distressed properties can be whittled down to a manageable number," he said.
Matthew Weidner, a St. Petersburg lawyer who focuses on foreclosures, doesn't see an end to the doomsday scenario caused by foreclosures. He blames executives at Wall Street lenders for the increased filings.
"This is a catastrophe being laid upon a crisis," he said. "America is foreclosing upon ourselves. The federal government is foreclosing on taxpayers to pay rich bankers. This is madness."
Nationally, initial filings rose nearly 4 percent last month, but represented a decrease of 29 percent from June 2010.
Mark Puente can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markapuente.