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Florida tops in foreclosures again, 13 of last 14 months

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By Mary Shanklin, Orlando Sentinel

Florida: Sunshine, beaches, and tops in foreclosures 13 of last 14 months. Foreclosure rates higher on mortgages approved this year than last year.

A year and a half after the Florida Legislature approved a foreclosure-streamlining measure, the state continues to lead the nation for its rate of home repossessions.

It was in July of last year that the state approved a bill streamlining the foreclosure process by allowing banks to repossess homes without going through the normal court process — if they had the necessary documentation. Court officials say the measure has been slow to catch on.

In November, Metropolitan Orlando ranked fifth in the country for its foreclosure rate. Within Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties, more than 2,300 foreclosure actions were filed in the courts last month. Near the Metro Orlando area, Brevard County ranked fourth nationally, and Polk County ranked ninth.

As Orlando-area homeowners near the holiday season, more appear to be falling into foreclosure for the first time. In November, 545 first-time foreclosure notices were filed in the Central Florida courts — up from 433 a month earlier.

Homeowners who hold some of the most recent mortgages might be more of a reflection of the latest rise than those whose mortgages were approved years ago.

“Foreclosure rates on 2014-originated loans are actually higher than 2013-originated loans nationwide and in many markets, indicating that lenders are open to a slightly higher level of risk than we’ve seen over the past five years of extremely tight lending standards,” RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said.

He added that it was unlikely to see lenders “dial up that risk level too quickly” as the country continues emerging from a real-estate crash marked by a “loose lending spree.”

Florida’s continued distinction for foreclosures comes even as the amount of overall foreclosure legal activity has declined. In the state, the actions are down 15 percent from a year earlier and 4 percent from a month earlier. And the legal activity in Orlando is down 5 percent from a year ago and 3 percent from October.

In fact, Florida might soon cede over its top foreclosure ranking as mortgage defaults mount in other states. New Jersey’s fast-growing rate of foreclosures ranked closely behind Orlando’s steadily declining rate for the month.

 

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