Thursday, November 15, 2012

Declining foreclosures increase home prices

Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 7:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 7:21 p.m.
Foreclosure activity last month declined more than 30 percent compared with a year ago in both Flagler and Volusia counties.



Flagler County
October 2012: 161
September 2012: 192
October 2011: 238
Volusia County
October 2012: 650
September 2012: 594
October 2011: 1,035
In Flagler County, the number of foreclosure notices, auctions and repossessions in October fell more than 32 percent, to 161 filings from 238 a year ago, according to a Wednesday report from RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based company that monitors foreclosed properties throughout the country.
Flagler County's foreclosure rate of one out of every 302 houses, placed it as the 12th worst among the states's 67 counties, down dramatically from the top position where it's been several times this year.
Benefits of declining foreclosure activity include a declining inventory of distressed homes, a stabling housing market and increasing fair market prices of foreclosed houses, said Jimmy Millhollin, broker/owner of Palm Coast-based RE/MAX Flagstaff.
"(Foreclosures) used to be 30 percent below market value; now it's closer to 80 percent fair market value," he said.
Short sales — where banks accept less for the sale of a house than the outstanding mortgage amount — are more prevalent than foreclosures and are priced closer to their market value.
Millholin said of the real estate inventory in Flagler County, "We're still almost 50 percent distressed. We continue to sell around 145 homes a month in Flagler County. We have a higher price point on distressed properties, that's probably the biggest noticeable thing I see from these numbers."
Flagler County's foreclosure activity in October was down 16 percent from the 192 filings in September.

Volusia County's foreclosure activity dropped more than 37 percent from last year, to 650 notice, auction and repossession filings from 1,035 a year ago. The foreclosure rate of one out of every 391 houses ranked the county 24th worst in the state.
Volusia County's foreclosure news was mixed however, as October's number was up almost 9.5 percent from the 594 filings in September.
And while Volusia and Flagler counties' foreclosure activity decreased overall compared with last year, area experts from both counties are still wary of the numbers.
James Rose, managing partner at Rice & Rose, a Daytona Beach-based law firm, said about the current numbers, "They're still high."
Rose, who practices real estate and probate law, said, despite foreclosure numbers decreasing from last year, "They're still high historically, especially compared to other states."
Rose also noted the rising price of foreclosed homes. When Volusia County was facing large-scale foreclosures, the inventory of houses was high and it drove down the cost of homes, he said. Because of declining foreclosures, there are fewer distressed houses on the market and the price of foreclosed homes is increasing.
Florida, for the second month in a row, had the nation's top foreclosure rate in the nation. In October, one out of every 312 houses was in some kind of distress — more than twice the national average.
There were 28,783 foreclosure filings across the state in October, down almost 13 percent from a year ago, but up almost 2 percent from September, according to RealtyTrac.
Across the nation, there were 186,455 foreclosure filings in October, down 19 percent from a year ago, but up 3 percent from September. The national foreclosure rate in October was one out of every 706 properties.

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