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2012 foreclosures worst in Florida; trend may continue

Homes sales across Florida are starting to pick up and prices are slowly rising, but research firms RealtyTrac and CoreLogic warn consumers that signs show the housing market may still be a long way from recovering completely. Florida led the nation for the highest foreclosure rate last year. Almost 280,000 homes in the state faced some sort of foreclosure action. These numbers are a disheartening 50 percent over the amount of foreclosures in the state in 2011.

The research experts warn that foreclosures in Florida could increase further when homes currently backlogged from the 2011 temporary foreclosure freeze are pushed through. Foreclosure delays from faulty bank filings and other complications will also start catching up. Florida foreclosures tend to take quite a long time to process, usually longer than 28 months.

Foreclosures do tend to free up houses at bargain prices for new homeowners. Some bank-owned homes have sold for up to $90,000 less than homes not facing any kind of foreclosure action. This may be good news for neighborhoods suffering from depreciating home values due to abandoned homes that mortgage lenders have taken over. Still, nearly everyone would agree that it would be better if those facing financial challenges could find ways to handle their mortgage payments, stop foreclosure, and hold onto their homes.

The difficult economy and continued high unemployment in the state may increase these challenges for many homeowners in the months and years to come, say experts. Those facing home repossession may benefit from speaking with a bankruptcy attorney to see what their options are.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Florida's foreclosure rate highest in U.S. in 2012," Drew Harwell, Jan. 17, 2013

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