Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port hits nation's No. 3 in foreclosures

cschelle@bradenton.comJuly 11, 2013 

MANATEE -- The Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port metro area became the third worst foreclosure market in the United States during June, RealtyTrac reported Thursday.

But there might actually be some good news: Foreclosures are holding steady over the long term for Manatee County.

The metro area ranked No. 3 in June for metro areas with a population of 200,000 or more, while it ranked No. 10 in May, said Jennifer von Pohlmann of RealtyTrac, a national data company that tracks the housing market.

RealtyTrac released its Mid-Year 2013 Foreclosure Market Report on Thursday. The metro area had 1,256 homes in some stage of foreclosure in June, according to RealtyTrac.

Foreclosures in the metro area increased 13 percent since May, and Manatee County is the reason for that jump, with a 45 percent increase. Sarasota County's foreclosures fell 1.5 percent since May, according to RealtyTrac.

While the No. 3 ranking can be alarming, the adjustment from month to month is too much of a seasonal number, and long-term data should be looked at instead, said Deena Atkinson, president of the Manatee Association of Realtors.

"It's all about interpretation. You have facts coming from everywhere and you really have to have a secret decoder ring to figure out what these different things mean, and it can be overwhelming," she said. "Anybody can manipulate statistics any way you want it."

Atkinson expects to see this up-and-down cycle of foreclosed homes in Manatee County for a while where a "shadow inventory" remains. Slowly, banks will trickle them back onto the market, she said.

Bank repossessions more than doubled in Manatee County for June compared with May, with 235 homes in the hands of banks, according to RealtyTrac, meaning soon those homes will be unloaded on the market.

Foreclosures are remaining steady in Manatee County during the first half of the year compared with the first half of 2012, according to the latest report released by RealtyTrac.

Depending on the long-range comparisons, the results are mixed.

Compared to the first half of 2012, Manatee County had eight fewer foreclosures with 2,550 for January-June 2013, but that number is 13 percent higher than the second half of 2012 with 2,251 foreclosures.

Yet, foreclosures significantly dropped year-over-year for June by 46.7 percent with 505 housing units in some stage of foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac.

The same mixed bag is in neighboring Sarasota County. The first half comparison also remained steady, but foreclosures dropped about 12 percent since the second half of 2012 with 3,157 foreclosure filings. But the year-over-year foreclosures jumped 37.8 percent for June with 751 foreclosures, according to RealtyTrac.

Across the state, foreclosures increased 12.5 percent year-over-year with 25,228 housing units in some stage of foreclosure during June.

Florida posted the nation's highest state foreclosure rate in the first half of the year: 1.74 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing (one in every 58) during the six-month period -- nearly three times the national average, according to RealtyTrac. Manatee County had one out of 67 homes in foreclosure during the first half of the year.

The state consistently ranks high for foreclosure inventory because the state's foreclosures are handled through the courts, drawing out the process longer than states using administrative processes.

A total of 155,264 Florida properties had a foreclosure filing in the first six months of the year, the most of any state and up 12 percent from a year ago. In June, Florida foreclosure starts decreased 23 percent from a year ago. But scheduled foreclosure auctions increased 100 percent and bank repossessions increased 14 percent during the same period.

For Manatee County, foreclosure starts decreased 58 percent in June from a year ago, while scheduled foreclosure auctions also decreased 60 percent from a year ago, according to RealtyTrac.

Nationally, 127,790 properties had foreclosure filings in June, down 14 percent from the previous month and down 35 percent from a year ago to the lowest monthly level since December 2006 -- a 6 1/2 year low.

"Halfway through 2013, it is becoming increasingly evident that while foreclosures are no longer a problem nationally they continue to be a thorn in the side of several state and local markets, particularly where a backlog of delayed distress has built up thanks to a lengthy foreclosure process," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

"The increases in judicial foreclosure auctions demonstrate that these delayed foreclosure cases are now being moved more quickly through to foreclosure completion," Blomquist added. "Given the rising home prices in most of these markets, it is an opportune time for lenders to dispose of these distressed properties, either at the foreclosure auction to a third-party buyer, or by repossessing the property at the auction and subsequently selling it as a bank-owned home."

Miami has the highest foreclosure rate in the first half of 2013 among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more: 2.35 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing (one in every 43) during the six-month period -- nearly four times the national average.

Four other Florida markets round out the top five metro foreclosure rates in the first half of 2013: Orlando at No. 2 (1.94 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Jacksonville at No. 3 (1.91 percent); Ocala at No. 4 (1.85 percent); and Tampa at No. 5 (1.74 percent). Florida cities accounted for 12 of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095.

Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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