Homeowners in about half of the nation's states enjoyed a foreclosure reprieve during the first three months of the year, but the rest — including Florida — saw a jump as banks took back more homes.
Foreclosure activity during the first quarter rose 26 percent in Florida and 24 percent in the Tampa Bay metro area, compared with a year ago, according to California-based RealtyTrac, which monitors foreclosure data across the country.
In the metro area of Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, there were 10,437 foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — in the first quarter. That's up 17 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011.
Meanwhile, nationwide there were filings reported on 572,928 properties during the quarter, down 2 percent from the previous quarter and 16 percent from the first quarter of 2011.
Why the differences? Part of the reason, RealtyTrac reported, is in how foreclosures are handled. In the 26 states, including Florida, where foreclosures must be approved by a judge, foreclosures increased. But in non-judicial foreclosure states, recent legislation or court cases have disrupted the process, causing foreclosure activity to slow down, at least temporarily.
The county-by-county breakdown of foreclosure activity in the Tampa area shows wide variations. For example, filings were up in every county except for Pinellas County, which saw a 17 percent decrease in filings compared with the previous quarter and a 6 percent decrease compared with the same quarter last year. By contrast, Hernando County had far fewer filings than other area counties in the first quarter, at 794, but saw a 105 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2011 and a 13 percent increase over the first quarter of last year.
Pasco County, with 2,562 filings, had a 68 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2011 and a 60 percent increase from the same period last year.
Hillsborough County had the most filings, 4,667, but the increases were smaller. Filings rose 13 percent, compared with the previous quarter, and 31 percent from the first quarter last year.