Once again, Tampa Bay leads the nation in foreclosures, by a lot.
The number of bay area properties receiving a notice of default, scheduled auction or bank repossession jumped nearly 18 percent from March to April according to a RealtyTrac report released today.
Year-over-year, the jump topped the nation rising 59 percent; Miami placed second with 38 percent.
Notices for scheduled auctions and bank repossession accounted for about 59 percent of the 4,295 filings last month in the bay area, the report said. The filings indicate banks are attacking a glut of homes near the end of the foreclosure process.
That's good news.
With less than a five-month supply of homes on the market, Realtors and buyers are clamoring for more listings. Bidding wars have erupted throughout the region.
"We're running out of houses," said Craig Beggins, owner of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises in Apollo Beach. "This is the only way we can get inventory. It still costs more to build houses compared to the prices of these homes."
A healthy inventory supply is six months, meaning it would take about six months to sell all the inventory that is currently on the market. The lower the supply, the stronger the market.
As distressed properties clear the market and prices start to rise, nondistressed homeowners will put their homes up for sale with the hope of attracting higher prices.
Statewide, foreclosure filings fell nearly 8 percent last month.
Lenders delivered initial default notices to 1,755 homeowners around Tampa Bay and 12,784 in Florida.
Nationally, the 188,780 filings on U.S. properties in April was the lowest monthly total since July 2007. RealtyTrac attributes the decrease to lenders pushing homeowners into short sales by offering cash incentives to bypass the lengthy foreclosure process.
Local real estate data confirm that trend in Hillsborough, Hernando, Pinellas, and Pasco counties:
• From January through May 15, short sales rose from 2,549 last year to 3,248 this year, according to My Florida Regional MLS data. But median prices fell from $103,000 to $89,000 in that period.
Foreclosure sales have plummeted.
• From January through May 15, the sales fell from 3,929 last year to 1,273 this year. Median prices rose slightly from $62,000 to $62,700 in the period.
Experts had predicted that a flood of homes hitting the market from the bank inventory would further depress selling prices. But with the unsold inventory of homes being low, experts say the market can absorb the extra bank-owned properties.
• Lenders have put 972 bank-owned homes on the market this year in the four-county area.
Kevin Chadwick, owner of six Keller Williams offices with more than 400 agents in Tampa Bay, said banks have finally realized the market has stabilized in the bay area. More bank-owned homes for sale are necessary, he added.
"It's needed for this market to recover," Chadwick said. "Until this inventory is cleared up, we are not going to see price increases."
Mark Puente can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.