March saw the lowest number of properties with foreclosures nationally since the first quarter of 2008, according to new data from analytics firm RealtyTrac.
There was a 26.9 percent drop nationally in the number of properties with foreclosure filings from the first quarter of last year, with a 62 percent reduction in Florida.
The decrease comes largely from the foreclosure document scandal, which led to massive freezes of foreclosure cases across the country as banks worked to sort out the problem.
“The foreclosure documentation and processing problems have severely restricted [lenders’] capacity to process as many foreclosures,” said Daren Blomquist, a spokesperson for RealtyTrac.
According to Blomquist, the low numbers were not a sign of decreased foreclosure activity, but rather represent something of an artificial low, with levels likely to increase in the second half of 2011.
Statewide, the number of properties in Florida with some form of foreclosure filing — which are considered several kinds of filings, including lis pendens and notices of default — dropped by 62.02 percent from the first quarter of 2010.
There were a total of 18,867 properties in the tri-county area with foreclosure filings in the first quarter, a 64 percent drop from same period in 2010.
“Florida is kind of the poster child of this whole foreclosure documentation issue,” Blomquist said. “You’re going to see a bump in the numbers, but it may take longer in Florida than in other states because there’s a lot more to unwind in terms of correcting the alleged improper paperwork.”
Miami-Dade County led South Florida with 7,257 properties with foreclosure filings in the first quarter, followed by Broward with 6,876 and Palm Beach with 4,734. Palm Beach County saw the biggest decrease at 62.5 percent.
Blomquist also said that Florida might take longer to begin processing more foreclosures because, unlike several other states that have been hit hard by foreclosures, it had judicial foreclosures, that is, where foreclosure proceedings are in court and presided over by a judge.
“Florida is the main exception,” Blomquist said. “California, Nevada, Arizona — those are all non-judicial states, so we’re not seeing quite as dramatic a drop-off in those states as we are here in Florida. It adds a level of bureaucracy that the foreclosures have to go through, so it’s going to take longer for lenders to adjust in Florida.”