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Slow Foreclosure Process Still Causing Trouble in Florida

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The national housing market has been improving significantly for some time and new data suggests that the number of homes in the foreclosure process is declining as well, but in the state of Florida, that process has been a major hindrance to the industry.

While many other parts of the country hit hard by the national housing downturn have made considerable steps forward in the last several years, Florida has lagged somewhat behind. Now, experts say that part of the problem hindering the state’s more robust recovery is that the process by which homes are foreclosed upon there is extraordinarily slow, according to a report from Tampa public radio station WUSF. Currently, Florida has the highest foreclosure rate in the entire country, and having edged ahead of Nevada for the first time five years.

Experts say the foreclosure process in the state, which relies on judicial decisions to close cases and therefore takes far longer than states with non-judicial seizures, can take as much as a few years to complete for just one property, the report said. In all, one in every 32 homes across the Sunshine State was in some stage of the foreclosure process during the course of last year, and that rate was more than double the national average. More problematically, because many in the state are still struggling financially, new foreclosures are still entering the system at a somewhat alarming rate, and running into the logjam of existing cases that have been going through the process for years.

However, despite the fact that many both in the real estate industry and within the state government see the judicial process as being problematic, it is often considered necessary, the report said. It provides significant protections to homeowners who may have been foreclosed upon improperly, which many states across the country do not afford their residents.

“But comparing one state to another is not necessarily fair, because Nevada is a non-judicial foreclosure state,” Tampa real estate attorney Charlie Hounchell told the radio station. “In Florida, the consumer has much more opportunity to remedy their default situation.”

It’s believed that the housing market nationwide will continue to improve for most of the next year or more as prices continue to rise and bring many homeowners out from under negative equity, which in turn might encourage them to begin listing their properties on the market en masse once again.

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