Foreclosures drop 50 percent in August

chawes@bradenton.comSeptember 15, 2011 

MANATEE -- The seesaw syndrome remains in effect for Manatee County foreclosures, which dropped 50 percent from July to August after skyrocketing by more than 100 percent the month before.

Throughout August, 347 homes either received foreclosure notices, were scheduled for foreclosure auctions or were repossessed by banks, according to the RealtyTrac tracking service. That’s almost 50 percent less than July’s total of 691, but almost identical to June’s total of 340.

The year-over-year numbers show a drop of 61 percent, from August 2010’s 894 foreclosures.

Last year’s huge jump in foreclosure actions had some experts predicting that the court logjam caused by incomplete paperwork and flawed filings may be loosening up. But with this month’s contrasting drop, several area real estate experts are saying to drop the month-to-month analysis and wait for real trends to emerge.

“The numbers show that you can expect not to expect anything,” says Mark Barish, an auctioneer with Ares Auctions. “You can’t make any sense of it. Those RealtyTrac numbers are actually blowing things up that just make this all more confusing.”

May Aston, a foreclosure specialist with ReMax Alliance, echoed Barish’s comments, saying it’s impossible to make any “rhyme or reason” out of the monthly ups and downs.

“It’s the first time in our history that we’ve had this many foreclosures,” Aston says. “So does anybody really know what to expect?”

Ron Pepka, co-owner and broker with Keller Williams Realty on the Water, says examining the numbers for quarterly or six-month trends is more useful. “Otherwise, the public’s kind of sick of hearing about it. One month it’s, ‘Oh, everything’s better,’ and the next month it’s, ‘Oh, everything’s terrible.’ and they don’t know what to think.”

Further convoluting the numbers, Barish says, is the role of short sales, one way for a homeowner to avoid foreclosure. Short sales can take place at any time from the point at which a homeowner begins to fall behind in his or her mortgage payments, to a foreclosure auction.

Barish also emphasized that regardless of the foreclosure numbers, the real estate market is in a unique position right now that favors buyers. “There’s low inventory, and there are low prices,” he says. “That’s historic.”

Christine Hawes, Herald business writer, can be reached at (941) 745-7081.

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