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As the economy continues to recover, there’s generally good news on the foreclosure front. Foreclosure filings in the U.S. were nearly 20 percent less in the first half of this year than in the same period during 2013. These include bank repossessions, scheduled actions and default notices.

An executive with RealtyTrac says that foreclosures fell “to levels not seen since before the housing price bubble burst in August 2006.” He says he expects them to level off within the upcoming months and for rates “to flat line at consistently historically normal levels.”

Within this good news, Florida has the unfortunate distinction of leading the nation in foreclosure filings with over 121,000 properties (1.35 percent of housing units) in the first six months of the year. That marked a significant decrease of 22% from the same period in 2013, but it was triple the average in the country.

According to the Midyear 2014 US Foreclosure Market Report published by RealtyTrac, the metro areas with the top nine highest foreclosure rates are all here in Florida. Miami came in at number one, with Orlando and Port St. Lucie at second and third, respectively. Tampa-St. Petersburg and Jacksonville are also among the top nine.

However, even at number one, Miami’s foreclosure rate was still only 1.65 percent. That’s down 30 percent from last year. Other major cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas had anywhere from 20 to 30 percent decreases.

Some major eastern cities, by contrast, had a greater number of filings. New York City had a 20 percent increase. Washington, D.C. was up 12 percent. Philadelphia and Baltimore had single-digit increases.

In discussing the latest numbers, the RealtyTrac executive noted that some areas are still dealing with the “lingering foreclosure problem left over from the housing bust.” They are “no longer a widespread contagion threatening to derail the housing market’s return to full health.”

Miami-area residents and other Floridians facing possible foreclosure need to understand their rights under the law. It’s essential to get sound legal and financial advice and to talk with professionals who can help you explore all of your options and determine the best course of action for you and your family.

Source: Miami Today, “Miami tops US in foreclosures” Scott Blake, Jul. 30, 2014