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RealtyTrac released its Year-End 2013 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – down 26 percent in 2013 from 2012, and down 53 percent from the peak with foreclosure filings in 2010.

Locally, foreclosure rates in Lee County fell more than 30 percent year-over year. Foreclosure filings were made on 7,981 properties, or one in 46 of the county’s housing units. Foreclosures in Collier County fell 8.9 percent in 2013 from 2012. Less than 2 percent, or 3,764, of the county’s housing units had a foreclosure filing for the year. When compared with other Florida metro areas, Collier County ranks in the bottom third and Lee County in the bottom half of the state’s metropolitan statistical areas in foreclosure filings per housing unit.

Florida accounted for the nation’s biggest share of U.S. foreclosure inventory, with 306,018 properties in some stage of foreclosure or bank owned – 25 percent of the national total. The number was virtually unchanged from a year ago, but it’s down 18 percent from its peak in November 2010.

The Sunshine State led the nation in the number of homes with a mortgage in the foreclosure process in 2013 – 3.01 percent. Other states rounding out the top five include Nevada (2.16 percent), Illinois (1.89 percent), Maryland (1.57 percent) and Ohio (1.53 percent).

Of judicial states where a foreclosure must go through the courts – a process that takes more time than non-judicial states – Florida ranked fourth, by percent, in the number of auctions scheduled in 2013. Maryland saw the biggest percent jump at 107 percent, followed by New Jersey (64 percent), Connecticut (up 55 percent), Florida (up 53 percent), Pennsylvania (up 24 percent) and New York (up 15 percent).

Florida also continues to rank high in the length of time it takes between a first foreclosure notice and a final auction. Overall, it took 944 days in the fourth quarter, ranking Florida third nationally. New York saw the longest time for the foreclosure process at 1,029 days followed by New Jersey (999 days.) Nationwide, the average time from filing to foreclosure auction was 564 days.

Florida metro areas

A 6 percent annual increase in total foreclosure activity helped push the foreclosure rate in Miami to No. 1 for metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 200,000 or more in 2013 – a total of 96,710 properties with foreclosure filings in the three-county metro area, or 3.93 percent of housing units (one in every 25). Miami foreclosure activity for the year was up 44 percent compared to 2011 but 44 percent below its peak in 2009.

Seven other Florida metro areas posted 2013 foreclosure rates among the 10 highest in the country: Jacksonville at No. 2 (3.32 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Orlando at No. 3 (3.20 percent); Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville at No. 4 (3.16 percent); Port St. Lucie at No. 5 (3.06 percent); Tampa at No. 6 (3.06 percent); Ocala at No. 7 (2.96 percent); and Sarasota at No. 10 (2.42 percent).

Other findings

More than 3 percent of Florida housing units (3.01 percent, or one in 33) had at least one foreclosure filing in 2013, the nation’s highest state foreclosure rate for the year. A total of 269,649 Florida properties had a foreclosure filing during the year, a 3 percent decrease from 2012 but still up 48 percent from 2011. Florida foreclosure activity in 2013 was down 48 percent from the peak of 516,711 Florida properties with foreclosure filings in 2009.

• Total national foreclosure activity in 2013 increased in 10 states compared to 2012, including Maryland (up 117 percent), New Jersey (up 44 percent), New York (up 34 percent), Connecticut (up 20 percent), Washington (up 13 percent) and Pennsylvania (up 13 percent).

• Scheduled judicial foreclosure auctions increased 13 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 to their highest level since 2010.

• The average estimated value of a property receiving a foreclosure filing in 2013 was $191,693 at the time of the foreclosure filing, up 1 percent from the average value in 2012. But the average estimated market value of properties that received foreclosure filings in 2013 increased 10 percent since the foreclosure notice was filed.

• Including the 2013 numbers, over the past eight years 10.9 million U.S. properties have started the foreclosure process and 5.6 million have been repossessed by lenders through foreclosure.

• Foreclosure starts decreased in 2013 compared to 2012 in 37 states. States with the most significant decreases in foreclosure starts included California (down 60 percent from 2012), Arizona (down 59 percent from 2012), Colorado (down 58 percent from 2012), Georgia (down 47 percent from 2012) and Michigan (down 42 percent from 2012) – all non-judicial states.