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Florida foreclosures rise 77 percent

The number of U.S. homes facing foreclosure surged 58 percent in the first six months of the year, with Florida ranking second after California among states with the highest numbers of troubled borrowers, data firm RealtyTrac said.

One of every 81 homes in Florida were sent foreclosure notices in the first half of this year, RealtyTrac said.

In all, 573,397 properties across the nation reported some sort of foreclosure activity in the first half of this year, including receiving notices of default, auction sale notices or being repossessed by lenders.

In Florida, the number of foreclosures is up 77 percent compared to the same six months last year, RealtyTrac said.

In South Florida, foreclosures have tripled in Miami-Dade County and Broward County in the first six months of the year, according to data from the counties.

Between January and the end of June, lenders started legal proceeding to regain title to 10,519 properties in Miami-Dade, according to the Miami-Dade County Clerk's office. By mid-June, close to 8,000 properties in Broward had entered foreclosure.

Thousands more foreclosures are pending from last year, since it can take between six months and a year for home to end up on the auction block, the last stage in a foreclosure when homeowners are finally forced to move out.

Fueling the surge in Florida's foreclosures are high property taxes, insurance costs, and failed investments resulting from the housing slowdown. Subprime loans given to home buyers with flawed credit as well as adjustable rate mortgages whose payments are resetting are also contributing to the mounting numbers.

Martin Hymowitz, chief executive of Plantation-based Mortgage Wholesalers of Florida, a subprime lender, said foreclosures would continue as long as lenders keep peddling adjustable rate mortgages offering super low introductory payments. Such home loans, which usually offer borrowers an array of payment options, carry terms which can cause payments to later skyrocket.

''As long as these programs are around, the problems will continue,'' Hymowitz said, adding his company sold only fixed-rate home loans.


Payment shock recently hit Rene Asor, who lives in Key West. A few months ago his adjustable rate mortgage reset.

Caught unaware, his monthly payment soared from $2,400 to $3,799. Asor fell behind, then caught up. But he doesn't think he can hang on much longer.

He said his lender, Countrywide Home Loans, has offered little help but to refinance. But now that his credit is damaged, he said he'll likely get the same rate, saving him little.

''I'm going to go into foreclosure,'' Asor said. ``Even to do a refinance it costs more money, the closing and all that.''

Nationally, RealtyTrac said a total of 925,986 homes were sent foreclosure notices in that same period.

Some of those filings targeted the same property, in part because owners had more than one mortgage.


That figure was up 56 percent from the year-ago period and up 39 percent from the last six months of 2006, the firm said. ''We could easily surpass 2 million foreclosure filings by the end of the year, which would represent a year-over-year increase of over 65 percent,'' RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio said.

The national foreclosure rate through the end of June was one filing for every 134 U.S. households, the company said.

In the past, RealtyTrac released the total number of foreclosure notices issued and did not say if a single property received more than one notice.

The firm is now breaking out the exact property count.

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