Florida remains the foreclosure capital of the United States, and outside of South Florida, the Jacksonville Florida metro area is leading the pack. The Florida foreclosure rate has remained the highest in the United States for five months in a row. Florida cities account for six of top 10 metro foreclosure rates in the country.
As of February 2013, 1 in every 300 Florida housing units had a foreclosure filing-- more than twice the national average. A total of 29,800 Florida properties had a foreclosure filing during the month, up 12 percent from the previous month and up 20 percent from January 2012. Northeast Florida was near the front of the pack with nearly 2000 foreclosure filings in January 2013, with one in every 301 housing units, ranking our region No. 8 for foreclosure rates among the nation's 200 largest metro areas.
This regional increase in foreclosure activity is in sharp contrast to a nationwide trend. U.S. foreclosures fell to a six year low in January 2013. The surge in Florida comes as much of the nation is seeing foreclosure activity wane. RealtyTrac said nationwide foreclosure activity was down 7 percent in January from December 2012 and plunged 28 percent from a year earlier.
So what is behind the dramatic rise in North Florida foreclosure activity? I see several trends working together to continue to give strength to Jacksonville, Florida's continuing perfect storm of Foreclosure activity:
• Duval County remains mired in the 2007-09 recession, with only recent improvement. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis and the United States Department of Labor, in July 2012, the unemployment rate in Duval County was at 9.8 percent. The rate managed to drop to 7.8 percent by December 2012, most likely due to temporary holiday hires. If recent historical data is a reliable indicator, the rate will spike again following the Christmas holidays. Even if the improvement is permanent, the low wage jobs in Duval County have not replaced higher wage construction employment that has been traditional Duval county Jacksonville. Because wages remain depressed, homeowners cannot afford to pay their home payments.
• Duval county properties remain "underwater" giving homeowners in Northeast Florida no "skin in the game."
• Many homeowners see strategic default as a way to save money by reducing their housing costs to make up for the loss of income of the last half decade.
• Large foreclosure mills, most of whom hire very inexperienced young attorneys at very low wages, remain inefficient in filings, making numerous errors at each step of the litigation process.
• Adding to Northeast Florida's brisk activity is the state handles cases through time-consuming court hearings, rather than quick moving administrative proceedings which the majority of other states use to foreclose. The Court system remains understaffed and underfunded to address the foreclosure crisis.
Times are still tough in Jacksonville. Most Northeast Florida middle class homeowners have never recovered from the 2007-09 recession. Getting back on your feet is the ultimate goal when recovering from a financial crisis, be it a national one or a personal one.
One thing is certain and that is there are experienced Jacksonville Foreclosure Defense Attorneys who may be able to help you get back on your financial feet. Whether you are deep in foreclosure or are just recently unable to make your mortgage payments, there has never been a better time to get a experienced lawyer involved in your case.
I have worked on both sides of this crisis, for the banks, and now for the little guys. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with a Jacksonville Foreclosure Defense Attorney.