MANATEE -- Manatee County is yet again bucking the national trend when it comes to foreclosures, according to data released today.
Foreclosed property sales accounted for only 16 percent of all Manatee County sales in the first quarter of 2011, reported RealtyTrac, a foreclosure tracking service based in California. By contrast, foreclosure sales accounted for 28 percent of all home sales nationwide between January and March 2011.
And while foreclosed property sales prices dropped just under 2 percent nationwide from last year’s fourth quarter to this year’s first quarter, RealtyTrac says Manatee County’s average sales price for foreclosed property increased 15 percent, from $138,675 to $159,467.
Manatee County topped Sarasota County’s average sales price for foreclosed property by more than $25,000. In fact, Manatee County had the seventh-highest average sales price among all Florida counties for foreclosed properties at the start of 2011.
Only Collier, Gulf, Jackson, Monroe, Saint Johns and Walton counties showed a higher average sales price for foreclosed or bank-owned homes. RealtyTrac’s figures are based on not only sales of bank-owned properties, but also private sales of properties that are at any point in the foreclosure process, RealtyTrac spokesperson Daren Blomquist said.
Several local Realtors said a growing trend of lenders pursuing short sales with financially pressed homeowners -- before they enter foreclosure -- may account for the smaller percentage of foreclosed homes being sold, a pattern that has been continuing for at least the past year.
Just one quarter ago, in the final three months of 2010, foreclosed homes accounted for 24 percent of all Manatee County sales. A year ago, foreclosed homes accounted for 27 percent of the county’s sales.
“Many, many lenders out there now are saying, ‘You don’t even have to be late on your payments to do a short sale with us,’” said James P. Adkins, a specialist in distressed properties who owns Adkins Florida Group in Bradenton. “In fact, they’re saying, ‘We’ll give you $5,000 at the closing table if you short-sale your home instead of us having to take it to foreclosure.’”
Another foreclosure expert sees a different kind of short-sale interest growing among banks. Dawn Bates-Buchanan, a local foreclosure defense attorney who owns Bates-Buchanan Law Group, says the way banks are dealing with short sales may be part of what’s driving up the sales prices of foreclosed homes in Manatee County.
“Short-sale offers are not being accepted here as often as they are in other areas,” Bates-Buchanan said. “Lenders are counter-offering a lot, with a price they have to get or are looking to get. They see there is better potential on the market.”
Manatee County’s relatively high sales price for foreclosed homes could also be due to its plethora of newer, high-quality homes in developments near Interstate 75 and on the water that were hit with high rates of foreclosure, Adkins said.
Sarasota County’s comparatively lower sales price for foreclosed homes is likely due to its more affordable south county communities like North Port, said Adam Robinson of Sarasota-Foreclosures.com.
“I’m sure if you were to compare the city of Sarasota to the city of Bradenton, the sales price in the city of Sarasota would be higher,” Robinson said. “But I’m sure the lower-priced properties in south county drive the whole of Sarasota County down compared to Manatee County as a whole.”
It’s also possible, said foreclosure attorney Crystal Golms, that a handful of super-priced properties in foreclosure could be artificially escalating Manatee County’s average sales price.
“I had a client recently who lost a $6 million home on which there was a $4 million mortgage,” she said. “That could skew the numbers significantly.”
Christine Hawes, Bradenton Herald business writer, can be reached at (941) 745-7081.