and Video Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
January 16, 2011
Fewer Palm Beach County homeowners entered
foreclosure in 2010 than the previous year, the first annual decrease in
filings since real estate began to tumble in 2006.
The year-end foreclosure data, released today by
Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac, shows a 28 percent drop in initial
foreclosure filings in Palm Beach County, from 28,284 in 2009 to 20,417
Statewide, initial filings dropped 32 percent.
Analysts attribute at least some of the dip to fall's foreclosure
moratorium. They predict an uptick early this year as stalled foreclosures
restart, followed by ups and downs throughout 2011 as adjustable-rate
mortgages taken out in 2006 reset to higher monthly payments.
The overall number of homes in foreclosure in 2010
keeps Florida at third place in the nation, behind Nevada and Arizona.
RealtyTrac measures initial foreclosure notices,
notices of sale and bank repossessions.
Florida had 485,286 homes in one of the three stages
of foreclosure in 2010 - 6 percent of all homes in the state - according
In Palm Beach County, 43,438 homes were in some
stage of foreclosure in 2010, which represents about 7 percent of all
homes. The nationwide average was 2 percent.
"The trend in the last few months is that new
filings have been down, but what is more important is the upward trend in
the number of homes repossessed by the banks," said Brad Hunter,
chief economist with MetroStudy in Palm Beach Gardens. "To me,
an indicator of the kind of pressure we will see on home prices."
The number of bank repossessions jumped 50 percent
in Florida last year compared with 2009, with 122,912 homes going back to
the bank. In Palm Beach County, bank takeovers more than tripled, with
8,979 homes repossessed.
One of those homes was co-owned by Jeff Simpson, who
was on the mortgage with his ex-wife.
The Palm Beach Gardens house entered foreclosure in
2009 and was set for sale Dec. 20. Although the bank requested that the
sale be canceled, a judge denied the motion and the home was auctioned
five days before Christmas.
While Simpson acknowledges some poor financial
planning on his part, the bleak economy also cost him and his wife their
jobs. He accepts that the bank has the right to take the home but says the
process has been baffling.
Simpson's ex-wife is still living in the home, 23
days after it was sold.
"What's hard is the lack of communication about
what is going on," he said. "What everything really means is
The Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller's Office
released its foreclosure tally Wednesday. According to its report, 19,840
foreclosures were filed in 2010, with 12,385 homes sold at auction.
The clerk's report may differ from RealtyTrac
because of when the California company records the data.
Nationwide, RealtyTrac says 2.8 million homes were
in foreclosure in 2010, fewer than the 3 million analysts had predicted
earlier in the year.
"Total properties receiving foreclosure
filings would have easily exceeded 3 million in 2010 had it not been for
the fourth-quarter drop, triggered primarily by the continuing controversy
surrounding foreclosure documentation and procedures," said James
Saccacio, the CEO of RealtyTrac. "Many of the foreclosure proceedings
stopped in late 2010, which we estimate may be as high as a
quarter-million, will likely be restarted and add to the numbers in early