300,000 Foreclosure Filings In South Florida Region Since 2007 Published on 1/5/2012 11:07:00 PM
Lenders have initiated nearly 300,000 foreclosure actions in the tricounty South Florida region since the real estate crash began in 2007, according to a new report from CondoVultures.com.
Lenders filed nearly 34,100 notices of default - the first step in the repossession process - in 2011 in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties after filing more than 57,600 actions a year earlier in 2010, according to the report based on the Condo Vultures® Foreclosure Database™.
Compare this to 98,300 foreclosure actions in 2009 and 75,700 actions in 2008. In the first year of the South Florida real estate crash in 2007, lenders initiated nearly 33,200 filings in the tricounty region of that year, according to the report based on Clerk of the Court records in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.
"Everyone involved the South Florida real estate market is intimately aware of the region's foreclosure challenges," said Peter Zalewski, a principal with the Bal Harbour, Fla.-based real estate consultancy Condo Vultures® LLC. "As large of a number that 300,000 filings represents, the South Florida total could have been greater if not for the breather the region received following the discovery of the robosigner controversy. The question going forward is whether lenders will step up their pace with foreclosure actions or pursue an incentive-based shortsale initiative for borrowers who owe more than their properties are worth in today's market."
Administrative irregularities in the repossession process first surfaced in late September 2010, creating a "foreclosure freeze" that prompted many lenders to slow the number of defaults being initiated against borrowers between October and December 2010 compared to the same three-month period in 2009.
The slowdown in the foreclosure filing process continued into 2011.
The process slowed even more after the Massachusetts' highest court ruled in the first quarter of 2011 that two of the nation's largest residential lenders - Wells Fargo and US Bancorp - "failed to prove they owned the mortgages when they foreclosed on homes," according to the New York Times.
In early March 2011, HSBC announced it was suspending foreclosure actions in Florida and across the country as a result of administrative irregularities, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Following dozens of investigations into the robosigner controversy, 50 state attorneys general began negotiating a settlement with several of the nation's largest lenders to determine how impacted borrowers would be dealt with by the banks going forward and a penalty amount - reportedly $20 billion - to partially offset the cost of the process, according to the New York Times.
The negotiations ultimately stalled this summer, clearing the way for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to file suit against several large banks including Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo for "engaging in unfair and deceptive foreclosure practices" on Dec. 1, 2011.
The suit intends to "hold multiple banks accountable for their rampant violations...and associated unfair and deceptive conduct amidst the foreclosure crisis that has gripped Massachusetts and the nation since 2007," according to Coakley's complaint.
No one knows what the uncertainty will do to investor confidence given concerns that the purchase of a bank-owned property could lead to title issues in the future, industry watchers said.
Even before the concerns about the legality of thousands of bank repossessions surfaced in the second half of 2010, lenders had already started to slow their foreclosure efforts due to the rising costs and difficulty involved with repossessing properties from borrowers in default.
Prior to the real estate crash, lenders generally expected the foreclosure process to take about six months to complete at a cost of about $40,000 in loss of debt service, unpaid taxes, damage, court fees, and attorney costs.
With nearly 299,000 notices of default filed against borrowers between 2007 and 2011, the South Florida court system was overwhelmed with foreclosure actions.
In South Florida today, lenders now plan for a 700-day repossession process with a cost of about $100,000 per property, industry watchers said.
In the end, bank-owned properties offered on the open market generate a lower average price than properties that are sold as shortsales.
In 2011, the average transaction price for a South Florida condo or townhouse shortsale was $113,100 compared to $92,50 for a bank-owned condo or townhouses, according to Florida Realtors association data.
The strategy shift by the lenders has led to a 12 percent spike in condo and townhouse shortsales, reaching more than 11,350 transactions in 2011. In previous years, condo and townhouse shortsales totaled 10,100 in 2010 and 5,550 in 2009, according to a CondoVultures.com report.
Condo and townhouses transactions that were never listed on the Multiple Listing Service are not included in this report.
It is important to note there are various stages to a residential real estate transaction in South Florida.
A transaction begins when a property is made available for sale and ends when a title is conveyed from one party to another party as a result of the recording of a deed with the local government.
As part of the process, a property typically goes under contract and into a due diligence phase by which a deal can be canceled.
Condo Vultures® LLC is a real estate consultancy and marketing company based at 1005 Kane Concourse, Suite 205, Bal Harbour, Florida, 33154. You can reach Condo Vultures® LLC at 800-750-0517.
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