It wasn’t the story she was expecting to hear…All Nicky wanted to do was help her daughter – a soon-to-be graduate student at Florida International University – find a place to live for the fall semester. Since she was unfamiliar with Miami’s vast landscape, she turned to a realtor. She was counting her lucky stars she had, because she never would have never known about a growing issue otherwise. What was it? Miami renters were finding great apartments, condos, and houses at affordable prices (something that’s not always easy to do). They were filling out applications, signing leases, handing over first and last months’ rent, and getting their keys. The only problem? Property owners were leaving out one small detail – they were one step away from foreclosure. Within a couple of months, banks were taking over, and renters were out on the streets and out of luck. By the time late summer rolled around, realtors were doing more homework on behalf of their clients. That way, unassuming renters weren’t getting blindsided a few months into a pricey lease. But, still, it begs the question – with months chock full of horror stories like these, is Miami the foreclosure capital of the world? (Rent to own- Is it right for you?)
Numbers-wise, you can certainly make that argument. As of August, the rate of foreclosures in the greater Miami area was 16.42%. That accounts for properties in some form of the foreclosure process – not properties that have been completely taken over by the bank. On top of that, a whopping 22.89% of homeowners were at least 90 days delinquent on their mortgages in August. Both of those numbers are significantly higher than the national averages for August – and that’s in spite of some of the horror stories we’ve seen come out of California and Nevada over the past few months. In fact, Florida now leads the way when it comes to foreclosures. Part of the problem stems from the fact that Miami saw some of the biggest home value increases before the bubble burst. Now that values have plummeted, homeowners are left with a huge gap that’s much bigger than what people in other areas are dealing with. However, Miami isn’t ready to take that foreclosure crown just yet. That’s because, as bad as the latest foreclosure numbers are, they’re actually an improvement over last year’s numbers. In fact, last August, 18.14% of Miami-area mortgages were in some part of the foreclosure process. Additionally, 25.45% of homeowners were at least 90 days delinquent on their mortgages. However, those positive gains could soon turn negative. Why?
South Florida has been hit particularly hard by the bankruptcy bug. According to statistics released last week, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties all saw a massive increase in the number of bankruptcies filed during the month of October – a 19% increase, to be exact. That news has local real estate experts and attorneys worried that a surge in foreclosures could soon follow. Miami-Dade County could see the biggest impact, simply because they saw the largest number of bankruptcy filings. However, it’s also important to remember that some of these bankruptcies were caused by existing foreclosures – not vice versa. In fact, Miami-area attorneys say that many South Floridians filed for bankruptcy after receiving a final foreclosure notice. As a result, the increase in foreclosures might not be as dramatic as you think. Bottom line – until Miami homeowners can get a handle on the foreclosure-bankruptcy cycle, it’s going to be tough for other areas to lay claim to the “Foreclosure Capital of the World” title.
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