South Florida foreclosure sales fall 26 percent, but short sales pick up momentum

South Florida saw a 26 percent drop in foreclosure sales in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2011, according to a new report from foreclosure analysis firm RealtyTrac. The number of foreclosure sales rose 6 percent nationally in the same period.

There were a total of 10,474 foreclosure sales in South Florida in the tri-county area in the second quarter, down from 13,171 in the same timeframe in 2011.

“In South Florida, the trends were pretty similar to what we saw nationwide, which is basically a pretty sharp decrease in the number of sales that were happening,” said Daren Blomquist, a spokesperson for RealtyTrac. “But we saw an increase in the average sales price on each property, so that falls in line with what we’ve been hearing locally from a lot of agents and investors.”

Statewide, Florida saw a 23.8 percent drop in the number of foreclosure sales. Nationally, the drop was 12 percent.

What agents and investors have been reporting is a limited supply of foreclosures, he said, which is even causing bidding wars in certain cases. In Miami-Dade County, for example, the average sales price of a foreclosure transaction rose to $138,803 from $125,405, an 11 percent increase.

“Seasonally, if we look at the past few years, there’s usually a bump in more foreclosure sales in the second quarter,” he said. “But we saw the opposite this quarter, where in the second quarter foreclosure sales actually dropped on a year-over-year basis.”

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But the drop in the number of foreclosure sales could stem from an increase in pre-foreclosure sales.

What’s happening, Blomquist said, is that banks are beginning the short-sale process far before properties are even entering the foreclosure process.

“One of the things that we’ve been seeing is that even for properties that are not even in foreclosure yet, there is actually a big percentage of non-foreclosure sales that are happening,” he said.

Indeed, the number of those non-foreclosure and pre-foreclosure sales actually increased 18 percent in the same period nationally. “That was pretty significant,” Blomquist said. “And it supported what we’ve been hearing, which is that banks are becoming more proactive with short sales, rather than waiting until homeowners start the foreclosure process.”

In some cases, he said, the lenders are beginning short-sale talks before a homeowner has even started missing payments.