Florida currently ranks sixth in the country in foreclosures according to recent reports. These reports also show that the housing recession is hitting Lakeland and Polk County the hardest as they are leading the way in foreclosures. Creditors spent 2021 getting back into the market place after ceasing most collection activities in 2019 and 2020 due to Covid-19. Reports show that foreclosure starts are up 219% percent and homes seized in foreclosure sales are up 115% compared to 2021. While the percentage increase is significant, the increased foreclosure activity represents a slow and steady climb back to normal levels that were in place prior to the pandemic. Overall, foreclosures in 2022 are still below normal levels but we expect to see foreclosure activity get back to normal levels by early 2023. How much more foreclosures will increase beyond these levels is up for debate.
A closer look shows the numbers in Lakeland to be very high. Lakeland currently has 27% of homes in the beginning of the foreclosure process with the majority of foreclosures starting within the last 6 months. This puts Lakeland and Polk County in the top 10 nationwide for most foreclosures. We wrote a year ago about a study out of Florida Atlantic University that showed homes in Lakeland being around 30% overvalued on average. There are a number of other areas with similar overvalued home numbers throughout Florida, including Tampa and a number of areas in South Florida.
The bad news is that nearly all the homes falling into foreclosure right now are for missed mortgage payments from before the pandemic. The bottom line is that the increasing foreclosures are due to financial issues that existed right as the pandemic started. This means that lenders are still trying to catch up on foreclosures from three years ago. This could mean that once mortgage foreclosures on recently purchased homes begin we could see a string foreclosure market extend for a long period of time.
While most economists differ on where the housing market is headed we can't help but think there is little chance that the record high prices that homes have been selling for over the last two years will fall at some point and lead to a significant foreclosure wave that will last years. If you are worried about keeping current with mortgage payments or find yourself falling behind or are in foreclosure now then call Florida Consumer Lawyers. Our firm is the leading foreclosure defense firm throughout Florida and we combine that with our practice knowledge in all areas concerning real estate, collection harassment, and bankruptcy. Talk to us before ever talking to a realtor.