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Florida foreclosures are still making the record books: a new report from RealtyTrac reveals that the State of Florida has more than FIVE times the number of vacant foreclosure homes than the next 5 states if you added all those states’ vacant home totals together.

Florida has 55,000+ vacant homes in foreclosure; Illinois, California, Ohio, New York and New Jersey follow in the list of most vacant homes but add all five of those states’ totals together (17,672 + 9802 + 9723 + 9173 + 7707) and you get 54,077.  In fact, Florida has 33% of the nation’s vacant foreclosure homes right now, according to RealtyTrac research.

What’s Going On Here in Florida With All These Vacant Homes That Are in Foreclosure?

Some people may be shocked to think that this many real estate properties are sitting in Florida neighborhoods without anyone living in them – either owner or tenant.  However, many experienced Florida foreclosure defense lawyers are not a bit surprised.  The banks continue to pursue foreclosure actions as some lenders remain unwilling to enter into loan modifications, short sales, or other foreclosure alternatives.

RealtyTrac’s report also provides some analysis on what’s happening here and across the country.  From Daren Blomquist, VicePresident of RealtyTrac, in the report’s news release:

“Somewhat ironically, efforts to slow the slide of the housing market in previous years are now hampering a smooth recovery by holding back inventory of homes that almost certainly must sell in the future but are not yet listed for sale,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “This includes homes in foreclosure that have been vacated by the homeowner, which account for one in every five U.S. properties actively in the foreclosure process, as well as more than half a million bank-owned homes. 

“Efforts to prevent unnecessary foreclosures and mitigate their impact on home values have resulted in a foreclosure process that takes an average of 477 days nationwide, and more than two years in some states — which is holding many of these must-sell properties off the market,” Blomquist continued. “Even if all these homes flooded the market simultaneously they would likely not cause the once-feared double dip in prices given supply constraints from non-distressed sellers and stronger demand. Given these market dynamics, it’s not surprising to see that Florida, Illinois and New Jersey — states with three of the four longest foreclosure timelines — have all had laws take effect in the last six months that speed up the foreclosure process on vacant properties. These laws should help provide some extra supply and possibly help reduce the threat of another housing price bubble forming in these markets.”

That’s Not All:  Florida Foreclosure Rates Are Jumping Higher, Too

RealtyTrac reporting has more to share regarding Florida’s current real estate market.  According to other RealtyTrac research,  Florida reclaimed the Number One spot in the country for highest amount of foreclosure activity (from notices of default all the way to repossessing of the home).  In May 2013, Florida had THREE times the national average of foreclosure filings.

That’s 1 out of every 302 homes in Florida.  By comparison, the national rate of homes going into foreclosure is 1 out of every 885 homes.

From the report we know that certain metropolitan areas of Florida have more foreclosure activity than others; according to the report, in May 2013:

1.  Miami is number one in the United States for foreclosure activity (1 of 209 homes has a foreclosure filing);

2.  Miami’s metropolitan area jumped 29% in foreclosure activity in a single month;

3.  Miami’s foreclosure activity is up 59% from this time a year ago.

Also making records here:  Jacksonville is number two in the U.S. for foreclosure activity (1 in every 225 homes has a foreclosure filing); Tampa is third in the country(1 in every 290); Orlando comes in seventh (1 in every 336); Ocala at No. 9 in the nation (1 in every 352); and Sarasota rounds out the top ten at No. 10 (1 in every 360).

Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:

Many will point to Florida’s judicial foreclosure system (where banks must file a lawsuit to foreclose on a piece of property) as one of the main reasons that Florida is making these kinds of records in national studies of housing markets.  (See our February 2013 post for details here.) However, without having a judge overseeing a bank and what it does with a family home and/or condo in a foreclosure action means a lender could be doing unscrupulous things as someone’s  home or condo is being taken from them.

Foreclosures taking place via the judicial process isn’t the problem.  It’s the lack of lenders willingness to work with people who don’t want to lose their homes but need the banks to work with them on finding ways to keep their homes and not face foreclosure.  Loan modification, short sale — these are viable alternatives to foreclosure but too few lenders for far too long have been willing to consider these alternatives and work with their borrowers to find a way around foreclosure.

It’s frustrated borrowers that leave a home vacant as it is in the foreclosure process, this isn’t something that is done willy-nilly.  Having an experience foreclosure defense attorney on board to work with borrowers in their dealings with these mortgage lenders can make all the difference; unfortunately, terrified and disgusted home owners trying to deal with banks on their own are all too often throwing up their hands in frustration and leaving their homes behind.


Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.

“I’m happy to take your call.”

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