Business briefs: Fewer foreclosed properties in Manatee

May 15, 2014 

MANATEE -- As Florida continues to lead the nation in foreclosed home sales, Manatee County's market for distressed residential properties is improving on the margins.

Florida as a whole topped the nation in foreclosure filings in April, with a total of 22,445, according to online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac. Nationwide, 115,830 residential properties entered foreclosure proceedings. That activity is down by 1 percent compared to the previous month.

The most recent Multiple Listing Service statistics show slightly more improvement in the Manatee County distressed residential property market. According to MLS figures for March, 101 foreclosure sales of single family homes in Manatee County hit the books for the month, up 3.1 percent from the same time last year. Median prices for those homes dropped year over year by 15.6 percent to $95,000.

But, for homeowners looking to avoid foreclosure with a short sale, the news was better. Only 28 single family homes went via short sale in March, down from 77 at the same time last year. And, the median price paid for those homes was significantly higher, hitting $195,000. That's up more than 65 percent from March 2013.

In the condo and townhome market, the news was even better. Foreclosures were down 31 percent year-over-year in March. Short sales dropped by about 54 percent. The median sales price for foreclosed condos and townhomes dropped nearly 36 percent, but short sale prices were up by 58 percent to $118,500.

State agency warns against phishing scam

TALLAHASSEE -- The Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued a warning to Floridians after learning that individuals posing as DBPR employees are targeting licensed businesses and professionals. The callers are asking victims for personal information.

The department has received complaints from victims who have reported receiving calls from people claiming to be DBPR employees and requesting personal information from individuals. DBPR has confirmed that the phone calls are in no way connected with the department or its regulatory authority.

If a consumer receives a call from someone claiming to be a DBPR employee and asking for personal information, they should not provide any personal or financial information.

A consumer safety tip is to ask the caller to return the phone call to verify their authority and call the DBPR Customer Contact Center at (850) 487-1395.

If the person calling claims to be a telemarketer, consumers may report the call to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352) or at freshfromflorida.com.

Legal battle over pet food ingredients escalates

ST. LOUIS -- A legal battle over pet food ingredients has escalated with a

new federal lawsuit against the United States' largest pet food maker.

The Blue Buffalo Co. sued Nestle Purina PetCare Company Wednesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, where Purina is based. The suit comes barely one week after Nestle Purina lodged its own complaint over ingredients in the same court.

Purina accuses its Wilton, Connecticut-based competitor of false advertising, disparagement and unjust enrichment. The counterclaim accuses Purina of some of the same deceits, as well as defamation.

Blue Buffalo advertises that its dog and cat food contain natural ingredients and do not contain chicken or poultry byproduct meals. The company's complaint calls Nestle Purina's criticisms part of a "nationwide advertising smear campaign."

Herald staff and wire reports

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