Tampa Pre Foreclosures and Bankruptcy Filings Still Surging- By: John Cutts
Tampa pre foreclosures and bankruptcy filings soared in the first three months of this year as economic distress continue to hammer homeowners and business owners.
In the Tampa-Saint Petersburg metro area, the number of foreclosure filings increased to 19,284 in the first quarter, with the number of default notices rising by one percent month-over-month. Total first quarter filings marked a still sharp 27 percent jump from the previous quarter and a 17-percent increase from the first quarter last year.
In March, total foreclosure postings in the metro area increased by 11 percent from the previous month and jumped up by 7 percent from March last year.
Similarly, the number of bankruptcy filings in the first quarter shot up by almost 21 percent compared to last year, posting a new record in the Tampa area.
In the Florida Middle District, which covers Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville, bankruptcy filings spiked by around 21 percent to a total of 16,149 cases, making the district second in total bankruptcy cases in the U.S., behind the Central District of California. In the Tampa area alone, a total of 7,810 bankruptcy cases were filed.
The surge in Tampa pre foreclosures prompted a number of bankruptcy filings. Chapter 13 filings, which halt foreclosures, protect certain assets and give several years to bankrupt residents to pay their loan arrears, spiked in March by 18 percent from the year before to over 1,500 cases in the Middle District.
Chapter 13 filings also help borrowers avoid paying off home equity loans or second mortgage loans. One bankruptcy lawyer said that three-fourths of his total workload involve homeowners or business owners clobbered by real estate loans.
Bankruptcy lawyers in the area also said that filings represented a broad portion of the community, with homeowners, retailers, home builders, professionals and restaurant owners filing for bankruptcy.
With the still double-digit unemployment rate, the pace of Florida real estate foreclosures continued to step up in the first quarter with a total of 153,540 filings, marking a 29-percent spike from the same period in 2009 and a 7-percent jump from the previous quarter. The jobless rate statewide in March rose to 12.3 percent, representing 1,138,000 jobless Florida residents.
Of the overall statewide filings, more than 22,000 units were purchased back by banks and posted in their real estate foreclosed home for sale listings. Of the statewide pre-foreclosure total of 131,490 filings in the first quarter, a significant portion comprised Tampa pre foreclosures.
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John Cutts has been educated in the finer points of the foreclosure market over 5 years.