Though Tampa Bay home values are slowly rising, mortgage debt and foreclosures continue to drag down the housing market, according to new reports from data firms Zillow and RealtyTrac.
More than 223,000 Tampa Bay homes were "underwater," or valued at less than what's owed on the mortgage, by a total of $14.4 billion in the second quarter of this year, according to Zillow.
The rate of Tampa Bay homeowners more than 90 days late on mortgage payments remained nearly double the national average.
But over the past year, so-called "negative equity" has dipped, Zillow said, as rising home prices helped close the gap between home values and loan debt.
That has not slowed the tide of foreclosure starts, auctions and repossessions, which rose by about 15 percent last month over October 2011, according to RealtyTrac.
Slowed by legal delays and the robo-signing scandal, banks continue to plow through a backlog of foreclosures and distressed homes.
About 1,200 homes were repossessed across Tampa Bay last month, more than twice as many as in October 2011, according to RealtyTrac.
Though Florida claimed the country's highest foreclosure rate for the second month in a row, foreclosure activity across the state dipped 13 percent since last October, a sign of national progress and the state's lasting slog.