Florida’s foreclosure crisis just won’t end. More than six years after subprime lending and overbuilding led to the worst U.S. real estate slump, the state had the biggest increase in home seizures last year, and the highest foreclosure rate, RealtyTrac Inc. said.

One in every 32 Florida households received a notice of default, auction or repossession in 2012, more than double the average U.S. rate of one in 72, the Irvine, California-based data seller said today in a report. Home repossessions increased by 16,276 during the year to 84,456, the biggest gain nationwide. Adding to the state’s woes is a backlog of foreclosures caused by a required court review of each case.

“Florida has had the worst problem the whole time, the combination of speculation and a run-up in prices and a judicial timeline that makes foreclosure sales take much longer,” Herb Blecher, senior vice president at mortgage-data provider Lender Processing Services Inc., said in an interview. “Even though they’re progressing somewhat, there’s still a foreclosure bottleneck.”

Florida, one of four so-called sand states that had the biggest booms before crashing, is the last of the group including California, Nevada and Arizona to rebound. While the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index for 20 U.S. cities surged 4.3 percent in October from a year earlier, the Miami and Tampa metropolitan areas in Florida were laggards among the component members “and have not recovered much so far,” according to index chairman David Blitzer.

Miami, Tampa

Phoenix and San Francisco area values have both advanced more than 22 percent from their lows, San Diego is up 12 percent and Las Vegas rose more than 11 percent, all surpassing gains of 8.2 percent in Tampa and 9.5 percent in Miami, the best- performing Florida market, S&P/Case-Shiller data show. Both of those cities are still down by about half from their market peaks in 2006, according to the measure.

“Arizona dealt with their problems, whereas Florida really hasn’t come down from the elevated level of foreclosures,” Robert Tayon, New York-based vice president of securitized products research for Barclays Plc, said in a phone interview.

Lower-priced areas in northern Florida cities such as Jacksonville and Tallahassee are showing a “sluggish recovery” compared with vacation destinations on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts in the south, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors in Washington. Judicial supervision of repossessions is slowing Florida’s rebound, in contrast to California and Arizona, so-called non-judicial states, where lenders send notices to delinquent borrowers and record defaults at the county level without court intervention, Yun said.


It took an average 853 days in Florida to complete a foreclosure in the fourth quarter, the third-longest behind New York and New Jersey, RealtyTrac said in today’s report. The U.S. average rose to 414 days from 348 days a year earlier, the most since the data firm began tracking the metric in 2007. Texas had the shortest period at 113 days.