BY DREW HARWELL
Florida ended 2013 once again as America's reigning foreclosure king, though amid the housing recovery new cases plunged, RealtyTrac data released Thursday shows.
About 107,000 new foreclosures began last year in Florida, a 31 percent drop from 2012, as banks continued to tussle with homeowners in the aftermath of the housing bust.
In total, Florida had 260,000 foreclosures pending in court by December, about half as many as were filed or reopened in the Great Recession days of 2009, state court data shows.
One in 33 Florida housing units last year faced foreclosure and was sent a notice of default, auction or repossession, according to RealtyTrac.
Tampa Bay, which had more than 43,000 pending foreclosures, posted the sixth-highest foreclosure rate in the country, alongside many Sunshine State neighbors: Miami (No. 1), Jacksonville (No. 2), Orlando (No. 3), Palm Bay (No. 4), Port St. Lucie (No. 5), Ocala (No. 7) and Sarasota (No. 10).
Those cases have created a long-term clog in the courts. Foreclosures in Florida, RealtyTrac data shows, took a staggering 944 days to complete, longer than every state but New York and New Jersey.
Fervor from investors to buy up distressed fixer-uppers has led foreclosure prices to rise. The 6,200 foreclosed Tampa Bay homes realtors sold last year were priced at $85,000, up from $79,000 in 2012.
About 1.3 million American homes received foreclosure filings last year, 26 percent fewer than 2012 and half as many as 2010. About 5.6 million homes nationwide have been repossessed by lenders since the housing bubble burst.
Contact Drew Harwell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8252.