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Recent data released by the research firm RealtyTrac on foreclosure rates gave mixed signals on the state of the economy in Florida. On the positive side, Florida saw the nation’s fourth largest drop in foreclosures in August compared to a year ago. However, the total number of properties starting foreclosure during the month still puts the Sunshine State second in the country. This shows how hard the financial crisis of 2008, and the subsequent recession, hit Florida’s economy.

Comparing the number of foreclosures in August 2013 with the corresponding figure from August 2012 showed a healthy drop of 64.6 percent. This is where the good news ends. The number of properties going into foreclosure during August was 5200, and the median home price of $131,000 was the eighth lowest in the nation. The figures show that while the economy may be improving, the situation is still dire. The most glaring statistic of all is that one in every 383 housing units is in foreclosure. Once again, this ranks second in the country.

Plunging real estate values combined with a tightening of the credit market left tens of thousands of Florida homeowners with properties far lower than their mortgage balances and unable to escape loans with unfavorable terms. Double-digit unemployment rates added to the problem, and many Florida homeowners simply walked away from their properties or were forced into foreclosure.

The home is often a family’s largest asset, and the prospect of losing it causes a great deal of anxiety. An attorney experienced in foreclosure defense may be able to help prevent this outcome by negotiating a loan or mortgage modification, or they may advise their clients about a strategic mortgage default. Other options include a filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or rolling the mortgage payments into a Chapter 13 payment plan.

Source: USA Today, “States with the biggest drops in foreclosures“, Paul Ausick and Michael B. Sauter, September 14, 2013