The greater Miami area led the nation in the percentage of homeowners who are in foreclosure or have fallen more than 90 days behind on their mortgage payment, a national review of 366 metropolitan areas indicates.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers (11th) and Naples-Marco (16th) also were in the top 20.

Prompted by tumbling property values and a large number of sub-prime loans, Florida has also been slow to get back on its feet because of a foreclosure process that on average takes more than two years to complete, according to report by a Washington –based coalition that is tracking the nation’s housing recovery.

 

Miami-Dade/ Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach had the distinction of having the highest foreclosure rate and the highest percentage of delinquent loans in December, according to figures compiled by Foreclosure-Response.org, a Washington-based advocacy group that tracks the industry.

 

During the month, the Miami metropolitan area had a foreclosure rate of 18.9 percent. Add to that the percentage of mortgages more than 90 days late and the figure jumps to 23.6 percent, nearly one in four mortgages.

 

Florida cities captured nine out of the top 10 slots on both foreclosures and delinquencies for the month, a dubious honor attained, at least in part, by foreclosure statutes that require judicial review of all cases, the group concluded.

 

On the foreclosure front, Florida held the top five spots, with Miami being followed by Port St. Lucie (16.7 percent), Palm Coast (16.6 percent), Tampa (15.9 percent) and Orlando (15.6 percent.). Cape Coral-Fort Myers was at 14 percent and Naples-Marco at 12.1 percent.

“The high and growing foreclosure rate reflects a buildup of homes that are stalled in the foreclosure process,” the report stated. “According to data from LPS Applied Analytics, foreclosure starts continue to outpace foreclosure sales and the foreclosure rate will remain high until these properties fully complete the foreclosure process.”

In Florida, the average foreclosure takes more than 800 days to complete, a figure more than three times larger than what industry observers say is an adequate duration to protect homeowner interests and get troubled property back on the market.

 

Recent attempts to remove judges from the equation have been offered but failed to garner the legislative support needed to pass. As such, the state will continue to experience longer than average foreclosure times, the group concluded.