Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

RealtyTrac reports flood of foreclosures in Tampa Bay housing market

Once again, Tampa Bay has a front seat on the foreclosure train.

The number of bay area properties receiving a notice of default, scheduled auction or bank repossession jumped nearly 38 percent from January to February, according to a RealtyTrac report released today.

Year over year, the jump was a nation-leading 64 percent; Miami placed second with 53 percent.

The numbers offer both good news and bad.

The bad: The days of living free of house payments could be waning for thousands of Floridians who have dodged eviction because of long delays in the courts or because their lenders were involved in the robo-signing scandal.

The good: The housing market cannot fully recover until the backlog of distressed properties is cleared.

"We can't keep this hanging over the housing market's head," said University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith. "Banks will start pushing more aggressively to clear the backlog."

Lenders delivered initial default notices to 1,951 bay area homes last month.

Foreclosure activity skyrocketed 71 percent from January to February in Hillsborough and 1,484 percent in Hernando County. Filings dropped less than 6 percent in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

Hillsborough's increase did not surprise Circuit Judge Herbert Baumann Jr.

Of filings in the last three February's, the fewest came in February 2011 after lenders stalled foreclosure cases across the country, the judge said. He expects the filings to increase more.

"We are nowhere near where we were at from 2008 through 2010," Baumann said.

Nationally, filing activity dropped by nearly 2 percent last month and represented a decrease of about 8 percent from February 2011.

But repossessions and scheduled auctions pushed up the Sunshine State's foreclosure activity more than 6 percent from January to February and more than 40 percent from February 2011, the report said.

The surge comes five weeks after the nation's top lenders reached an agreement with federal and state officials who had been investigating controversial allegations that lenders used robo-signers and false documentation to speed up the foreclosure process.

After the allegations came to light, banks stalled many foreclosures in the fall of 2010. The delay has enabled hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the country to skirt evictions and continue living in their homes without making mortgage payments. Those days could be over.

"The foreclosure and mortgage settlement filed in court earlier this week will help pave the way to a properly functioning foreclosure process by providing a clear road map for necessary foreclosures," said Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac. "That should result in more states posting annual increases in the coming months."

St. Petersburg lawyer Matt Weidner, a critic of how lenders have handled foreclosures, said the uptick came too quick to be attributed to the accord between banks and government regulators.

"At some point, the floodgates had to open," he said. "The banks have been sitting on these houses and waiting" for the paper work issues to clear.

Notices for scheduled auctions and bank repossession accounted for about 55 percent of the 4,295 filings last month in the bay area, the report said. Those filings indicate banks are attacking a glut of homes near the end of the foreclosure process.

Experts had predicted that a flood of homes hitting the market from the "shadow inventory" would further depress selling prices. But with the unsold inventory of homes being nearly at record lows in the bay area, experts say the market can absorb the extra bank-owned properties.

Century 21 Beggins Enterprises in Apollo Beach recently analyzed foreclosure filings in Hillsborough County for the last three months in order to market short sales to homeowners. The firm found that the majority of the distressed properties were already listed for sale.

"People are trying to do the right thing by selling their house to avoid the foreclosure," said owner Craig Beggins.

His agents sold 197 homes last month compared with 125 in February 2010. With a dwindling supply of homes being listed for sale, the market needs a surge of bank-owned homes to appease buyers, he added.

"This is good news," Beggins said. "We need the inventory to balance out the market. We are hurting for listings."

As distressed properties clear the market and prices start to rise, nondistressed homeowners will put their homes for sale with the hope of attracting higher prices.

Scott Brown, chief economist with Raymond James in St. Petersburg, said the housing market will improve as banks decrease the supply of distressed properties. He believes the surge might be connected to the bank settlement and predicted more bumps in the coming months.

"They could be playing catchup," Brown said. "This is something that bears watching as we move forward."

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

Comments
Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

The head of the Pinellas and Hillsborough career centers under multiple investigations into the way they report job placement figures says he has no intention of stepping down.That’s unless he is paid five months severance.In a letter from his attorn...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Terminally ill Valrico man dies a month after marrying junior high sweetheart

Terminally ill Valrico man dies a month after marrying junior high sweetheart

VALRICO — During his final few days, 19-year-old Dustin Snyder moved to a hospice house, surrounded himself with belongings from home, swam in a pool and visited the beach in Ruskin.Wherever he went, the terminally ill Valrico man had family beside h...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tampa Downtown Partnership gets initial city okay to expand north

Tampa Downtown Partnership gets initial city okay to expand north

TAMPA — The Downtowner may be heading to Tampa Heights — but not until Oct. 1.That’s because the nonprofit Tampa Downtown Partnership this week won initial City Council approval to expand into Tampa Heights."Tampa Heights is becoming an important gat...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Tampa lawyer gets 27 months in federal prison for insider trading

Tampa lawyer Walter "Chet’’ Little was sentenced this week to 27 months in federal prison for engaging in an insider trading scheme that reaped him and a friend profits totaling nearly $1 million.According to federal authorities, Little accessed comp...
Updated: 11 hours ago
More companies are cutting ties with gun lobby as #BoycottNRA movement gains steam

More companies are cutting ties with gun lobby as #BoycottNRA movement gains steam

Three major companies — Enterprise Holdings, First National Bank of Omaha, and the cybersecurity giant Symantec — have ended co-branding partnerships with the National Rifle Association as a #BoycottNRA social media movement picks up steam.Enterprise...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Citi to refund $330 Million to credit card customers it overcharged

Citi to refund $330 Million to credit card customers it overcharged

Citigroup is preparing to issue $330 million in refunds after the bank discovered it had overcharged nearly 2 million credit card customers on their annual interest rates, a spokeswoman said Friday.The bank, which has about 150 million credit card ac...
Published: 02/23/18
Girl Scouts camp sold to member of Tampa’s Lykes family

Girl Scouts camp sold to member of Tampa’s Lykes family

ODESSA — The 63-year-old lakeside summer camp had no air conditioning or electricity. Cabin floors were often covered in grime, and cobwebs clung to the windows.But under new ownership, the 18.6 acres of Florida woods known as Camp Scoutcrest to memb...
Published: 02/23/18
BB&T cites ‘technical issue’ in outage affecting customers

BB&T cites ‘technical issue’ in outage affecting customers

Millions of BB&T customers were unable to access their accounts after a service outage which the bank blames on an equipment malfunction. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based bank posted a statement on its Twitter page saying the problem persiste...
Published: 02/23/18
Realtors are ‘every 10 feet’ in Florida but more want in the business

Realtors are ‘every 10 feet’ in Florida but more want in the business

ST. PETERSBURG — Tired of working as a yacht captain, Pancho Jiminez decided to get into real estate even though he knows it’s a highly competitive field in Florida."Realtors are every 10 feet around here," he says.Nonetheless, Jiminez is among 30 st...
Published: 02/23/18
Winn-Dixie sells 8 stores after report says owner could close 200 locations

Winn-Dixie sells 8 stores after report says owner could close 200 locations

A week after Bloomberg reported that Southeastern Grocers — the Jacksonville retailer that owns Winn-Dixie and other chains — could be closing up to 200 stores, the company announced it was selling off eight of its Louisiana locations.Texas’ Brooksh...
Published: 02/23/18