New foreclosure filings in Tampa Bay plunge 90 percent

Tampa Bay's rebound from the foreclosure crisis comes as the foreclosure rate nationally sinks to its lowest level in 13 years.
This house in St. Petersburg’s Shore Acres neighborhood has been in foreclosure for years although Tampa Bay’s rate of new foreclosure filings has plunged. [ Times ]
This house in St. Petersburg’s Shore Acres neighborhood has been in foreclosure for years although Tampa Bay’s rate of new foreclosure filings has plunged. [ Times ]
Published January 17

Foreclosure filings in the Tampa Bay area have plunged 90 percent since 2009-10 when one in every 20 homeowners was in default on mortgage payments.

The bay area's dramatic rebound from the foreclosure crisis comes as the foreclosure rate nationally sinks to its lowest level in 13 years, according to figures released Thursday by the online property data site ATTOM Data Solutions.

"Most of the distress from the last housing crisis has now been cleaned up,'' said Todd Teta, ATTOM's chief product officer.

Tampa Bay was among the metro areas hardest hit as thousands of borrowers who had obtained loans despite shaky credit and finances were unable to make their payments. Aggravating the crisis was the huge run-up in prices in the early 2000s followed by a crash that left many borrowers owing far more than their homes were worth.

For the bay area, the worst of the foreclosure crisis hit in 2009. That year, there were 23,495 new foreclosure filings in Hillsborough County, 16,821 in Pinellas County, 9,519 in Pasco County and 3,455 in Hernando County.

In one community in southern Hillsborough, King's Lake, one in every five houses wound up in foreclosure.

Last year, new foreclosure filings declined to 2,480 in Hillsborough, 1,722 in Pinellas and fewer than 1,000 each in Pasco and Hernando. Among the reasons for the decline: rising home values and strong job growth that has put many borrowers back to work and able to afford payments.

Nationally, filings plummeted 78 percent from their 2010 peak to the lowest level since 2005.

With the help of the federal Hardest Hit Fund and other programs, many borrowers faced with foreclosure ultimately were able to save their homes. Still, banks repossessed a total of nearly 1.5 million in Florida and California and, in a potentially ominous sign, Florida is also among 18 states that posted-year-over increases in new foreclosure filings in 2018.

"There was some evidence of distress gradually returning to the housing market in 2018,” said Teta of ATTOM Data Solutions. "Some of that distress was driven by natural disasters, notably in Houston, but natural disasters do not explain the increase in markets such as Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Austin.''

The same year, 2017, that Houston was deluged by Hurricane Harvey, many parts of South Florida and the lower gulf coast were slammed by Hurricane Irma. That could account at least in part for Florida's increased foreclosure rate.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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