7/1/2013 12:07 PM ET|
Florida's housing crisis still isn't over
The state now holds a third of the nation's abandoned homes despite rising prices and improving sales.
With foreclosure rates down 23% from a year ago and the supply of new and existing homes at a 20-year low, that means the housing crisis is over, right?
Only if your neighborhood isn't still dotted with abandoned homes. Online real estate company RealtyTrac says Florida is littered with such neighborhoods, as the state is now burdened with 55,500 abandoned homes. That's a third of all abandoned homes in the U.S.
Florida became the face of the housing crisis and the ensuing recession as its unsold properties sat fallow and residents soon found themselves with mortgages valued at more than their homes could fetch on the market.
The Huffington Post shares stories of residents in Tampa battling overgrown bamboo and mowing lawns on properties long abandoned but not yet foreclosed upon. The banks that signed off on the mortgages for those abandoned homes are technically responsible for their upkeep, but maintenance is often minimal and corners are cut whenever possible.
Foreclosures still account for 27% of all sales in Tampa and 28% of all homes sold in Miami, according to RealtyTrac. Even though Florida has been luring more buyers to homes that haven't been foreclosed upon through short sales -- which sell homes for less than the mortgages owed and account for 26% of all sales in Florida -- that option is quickly disappearing.
Nationally, short sales fell by 35% in the first quarter from the same period a year ago. Rising home prices are coaxing more owners to hold on to their properties in the hope that they'll get the price they originally paid. Combined with average foreclosure prices rising by 28% during the first three months of 2013, that has made lenders less inclined to enter short sales.
While abandoned homes aren't just Florida's problem -- they represent 20% of all foreclosures in the U.S. -- nine of the 20 metropolitan areas with the most vacant homes in the country are in that state. Even as bank repossessions rose by 11% last month with lenders sprinting to take advantage of rising home prices, it's still tough to argue that the housing crisis has ended for the Sunshine State.
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