1. Business

Tampa Bay's foreclosure rate remains high despite a better January

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Published Feb. 13, 2014

Tampa Bay saw 20 percent fewer foreclosure filings last month than in January 2013, a sign that lingering distress from the housing crash continues to slowly fade from view, RealtyTrac data released today show.

But the good news ends there. Tampa Bay posted the seventh-highest foreclosure rate in the country last month, with twice as many filings — notices of default, auction or repossession — as Phoenix, Dallas or Detroit.

One in 389 housing units here last month received a foreclosure filing, data show, and about 1,200 bay area housing units were pulled into the first step of foreclosure. An additional 1,000 homes were sold in foreclosure auctions or taken back by the bank.

Tampa Bay courts faced a backlog of more than 41,000 pending foreclosures by the end of 2013, down from 50,000 at the end of last summer, state court data show. But clearing the rest won't be quick: Judges are ruling on or dismissing about 2,000 cases a month.

Florida saw 13 percent fewer foreclosure filings last month than in January 2013, the sixth straight month of decreases since the state enacted its "faster foreclosures" law in July.

Yet even with climbing prices here allowing underwater home­owners to resurface, Florida has yet to cede its foreclosure throne. The Sunshine State once again posted the nation's highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 346 housing units in distress.

Of Florida's hardest-hit foreclosure metros, including Miami, Ocala and Jacksonville, only Tampa and Orlando saw foreclosure activity go down from December to January. Still, those five metros remain in the top 10 in foreclosure rates nationwide.