We weren't the worst in the United States. We weren't even the worst in Florida. But the Tampa Bay area's home price slump and foreclosure rate are nothing to brag about.
Tampa placed seventh from the bottom among 20 metro areas on the newly released S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index. Though prices fell 13.5 percent the past year, it wasn't as bad as Miami's 17.5 percent decline.
Meanwhile, in a separate ranking of foreclosures compiled by the firm RealtyTrac, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater came in 36th worst out of 229 metro areas.
The region reported 4,210 foreclosure filings in January, including 486 properties Bank repossessions. RealtyTrac counts multiple late notices on single properties, but it's still a 176 percent increase in foreclosure filings over a year earlier.
Cape Coral/Fort Myers, among the most investor-driven housing markets, led the nation in foreclosure filings with one for every 86 households. Nationally, 233,001 homes received at least one late notice from lenders last month, compared with 148,425 a year earlier.
RealtyTrac flagged a 90-percent spike in bank repossessions nationally from January 2007.
"It suggests that there's little or no equity in a lot of these homes, because they're not even being sold to investors at auctions, and it suggests a continuing weakness in a lot of markets in terms of real estate sales," said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac's vice president of marketing.
On the national home price front, the Case Shiller index, released Tuesday, reported a decline of 8.9 percent at the end of 2007. It was the steepest drop in the index's 20-year history.
Only three of 20 housing markets on the index — Portland, Ore., Seattle and Charlotte, N.C. — showed price increases last year.
"We reached a somber year-end for the housing market in 2007," said Robert Shiller, the economist who helped create the index. "Home prices across the nation and in most metro areas are significantly lower than where they were a year ago. Wherever you look, things look bleak."
The U.S. foreclosure rate last month was one filing for every 534 homes. RealtyTrac follows default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. Lenders typically consider borrowers delinquent after they fall three months behind on mortgage payments.
Falling home values and tighter lending standards have extended the housing slump, making it tougher for homeowners to sell homes they can't afford. A wave of adjustable-rate mortgage resets expected in May and June threatens to push many other homeowners into default.
Nevada led the nation in the RealtyTrac survey. Rounding out the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates were California, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Georgia, Connecticut, Ohio and Michigan.
Florida reported 30,178 homes entering the foreclosure pipeline in January, up about 158 percent from a year earlier but down 3 percent from December.