Rising Foreclosure Filings Expand the Shadow Inventory

by 18 Feb 2013

Housing market analysts and observers who warned about a spike in foreclosure filings after the National Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement Agreement of last year are seeing their projections come validated in the latest report by RealtyTrac, the California-based real estate analytics firm that specializes in foreclosure data.

RealtyTrac's 2012 Year-End Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report indicates that default and lis pendens filings increased by 57 percent across 212 metropolitan housing markets. Two of Florida's regional housing markets that were particularly affected by the bursting of the housing bubble saw a substantial increase: Tampa and Miami. The latter city saw its rate of foreclosure filings increase by 36 percent compared to 2011, and Tampa experienced an astonishing 80 percent.

Shadow Inventory Broods Larger

The Sunshine State has taken the lead in foreclosure filings, but this does not mean that median home prices in Florida are bound to be affected. Eight out of the 20 metropolitan housing markets with the highest rates of foreclosure in RealtyTrac's report are in Florida, and real estate analysts are concerned that this is causing inflated prices and slow sales.

A recent opinion piece by Florida real property attorney Roy Oppenheim in U.S. News and World Report explains that real estate investors are at odds with the banks that are holding on to their Real Estate Owned (REO) portfolios. With too many foreclosures in the pipeline, the available inventory is depleted. This leads to an artificial sellers' market and upsets investors.

On one hand, banks would be at a disadvantage if they decide to release too many of these REO properties at once because they have their capital reserves and balance sheets to protect. Housing investors, on the other hand, would like to see a flood of these distressed properties hit the market so that they can take advantage of the budding housing market recovery. Special interest groups are pressing Florida's lawmakers on this issue; they are calling for an expedited process in one of the slowest judicial foreclosure states in the U.S.

The Silver Linings

Florida does not take first place in the slowest foreclosures category, but real estate speculation has traditionally been part of the Sunshine State's economy. Some housing analysts think that Florida may be left out of the next real estate bonanza, but this is good news for other markets across the nation such as Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Those housing markets are seeing drops in their foreclosure filings from 37 percent to 24 percent, which has caused a flock of investors and home shoppers to those areas.


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