Real estate experts for several months predicted that foreclosures in Tampa Bay would rise as lenders cleared a backlog of filings containing improper signatures.
So far, that hasn't happened.
Initial foreclosure notices in the Tampa Bay area decreased nearly 22 percent in May, according to a RealtyTrac report released today. Lenders delivered new notices to 2,110 homeowners around Tampa Bay.
Filings have dropped in six of the past seven months.
"It's not that surprising," said Scott Brown, chief economist with Raymond James in St. Petersburg. "The worst is behind us, but it's going to be a long way for a full recovery in the housing market."
Many Florida regions also recorded fewer foreclosure filings last month. Ocala was down 26 percent; Orlando, 14 percent; and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, 5 percent. Filings statewide fell 62 percent from May 2010, with Tampa Bay down 66 percent in the same period. One of every 461 homes in Florida received a notice last month.
Several Florida regions recorded increases. Sarasota-Bradenton and Miami-Fort Lauderdale both rose just above 2 percent. But compared with May 2010, those areas are down 47.84 percent and 61.73 percent.
Nationally, initial filings fell nearly 2 percent.
James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said the foreclosure situation is still being masked by the processing delays. He said lenders are somewhat unevenly pushing batches of bad loans through foreclosure as they overhaul their paperwork and documentation procedures.
The mixed foreclosure filings show that some markets, he said, can better absorb an increase of bank-owned properties.
Mark Puente can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markapuente.