If you thought they were gone, think again. The foreclosure phenomenon known as a ‘zombie foreclosure’ has proven that it is here to stay. A zombie foreclosure occurs when homeowners leave their homes when they receive a notice of foreclosure only to find out years later that the bank decided not to foreclose on the property; leaving title in the homeowner’s name.
South Florida has relinquished its ranking as the nation’s top spot for foreclosures.
One in every 269 homes in the tri-county region was in some stage of foreclosure last month, RealtyTrac said. Akron, Ohio, ranked first, at one in 211 homes, and Ocala was second at one in 225 homes.
The Irvine, Calif.-based listing firm monitors public records for three types of foreclosure filings: new cases, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.
South Florida had 9,127 total filings in April, up slightly from a year earlier, but new cases declined by 35 percent, said Daren Blomquist, a spokesman for RealtyTrac.
“It appears that lenders have caught up with these delayed foreclosures,” he said. “Banks are pushing through the backlog, so we’re getting closer to seeing a resolution with these distressed homes.”
Foreclosures mounted across the country during the housing bust. But some lenders held back on filings starting in late 2010 over concerns about possible paperwork errors.
While Florida last month had the nation’s second-highest foreclosure rate, after Nevada, filings are down sharply across the Sunshine State since the 2009 peak, Blomquist said.
When the real estate market collapsed, Miami’s downtown epitomized the worst excesses of the building boom. Glittering new towers sat mostly vacant. Today Miami’s downtown real estate is booming and bustling with life and commerce thanks to foreign investors and renters.
A report by the Miami Downtown Development Authority indicates that 85 percent of new condo units are occupied. Downtown Miami’s population now numbers about 70,000 compared to 40,000 ten years ago. In spite of Miami-Dade’s 13.2% unemployment rate, downtown bars, shops and restaurants buzz with activity at the end of the workday. Sales at the swank Icon Brickell average 47 units a month.
Clearing the backlog of foreclosures slows again as some delinquent homeowners successfully maintain that their mortgage companies can’t prove they own the loans, therefore forfeiting their right to foreclose. After last fall’s robo-signing debacle, many homeowners are waking up and realizing their banks are guilty of sloppy practices at best and forgery at worst. Oppenheim Law continues to see banks dismiss foreclosures.
And the ugly:
Double Dip Housing is no Ameri-cone Dream
As South Florida housing prices hit a new low, the The New York Times and Wall Street Journal chime in unison with a cherry on top: Goodbye, American Dream. It seems renting is the new ‘black’ in real estate fashion as desperate sellers watch not-so-desperate buyers sit on the sidelines waiting for the bottom to hit; while they rent in Miami luxury.
The S&P/Case-Shiller National Index, released today, indicated prices nationwide fell 4.2% in the first quarter after declining 3.6% in the fourth quarter of 2010, in spite of increases in 2009 after the home buyer tax credit and early 2011.
Florida real estate finally makes the #1 list for something positive.
With the real estate market in recovery mode, owning a home is more affordable than renting in 72 percent of major U.S. cities. Miami, Las Vegas and Arlington, Texas round out the top three cities where buying is a safer bet.
Renting is more affordable than buying in only eight percent of America’s largest cities, including New York City, Seattle, and Kansas City. The Offices of Weston Title and Oppenheim Law continue to help homeowners navigate through the waters (and under waters) of Florida real estate buying, selling and investing.