Updated Jul 17, 2018 at 2:26 PM
Local foreclosure activity has continued to drop this year, keeping Southwest Florida at what analysts consider a normal level of troubled homeowners.
At mid-year, fewer than 1 percent of the homes in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties were stuck in the foreclosure mill, well below the peak during the recession-era when the region had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.
While foreclosure filings increased in the wake of Hurricane Irma last year, they have returned to trending down in recent months.
Sarasota-Manatee recorded 1,039 foreclosure filings during the first half of 2018, with one in every 396 homes — or 0.25 percent — in some form of distress, according to real estate researcher ATTOM Data Solutions.
That is down by 29 percent from 2017 and by 34 percent from 2016. The two counties ranked 104th out of the 218 largest U.S. metro areas measured in the report.
Foreclosure starts, the first step in the process, were down by 6 percent over the year.
In Charlotte, 318 foreclosure filings — a default notice, scheduled auction or bank repossession — were reported from January through June, off by 19 percent from last year and 55 percent from two years ago. One in every 318 homes, or 0.30 percent, sat in the foreclosure process, ATTOM said.
In 2017, foreclosure filings in Southwest Florida fell to the lowest level since 2006, prior to the start of the financial crisis.
Florida reported the nation’s ninth-highest rate at mid-year with 0.37 percent of its homes, or one in every 271, in foreclosure.
The U.S. rate was 0.27 percent, with one in every 370 homes with a foreclosure filing.
Only 26 metro areas reported year-over-year increases in foreclosure activity.
“Localized foreclosure flare-ups in the first half of 2018 can no longer be blamed on legacy distress left over from the last housing bubble, given that nearly half of all active foreclosures are now tied to loans originated in 2009 or later, and given that the average time to foreclose plummeted in the first two quarters of the year,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM. “Instead, these local foreclosure increases are typically the result of more recent distress triggers in those markets.
“We’re also seeing early evidence of gradually loosening lending standards starting in 2014, specifically for FHA-backed loans,” he said. “The foreclosure rate on FHA loans originated in 2014 and 2015 has now jumped above the average FHA foreclosure rate for all loan vintages — the only two post-recession vintages with foreclosure rates above that overall average.”
Florida, with a judicial foreclosure process, has the second-longest time to complete foreclosures at an average 1,166 days, ATTOM said.