Recently, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial discussing the status of mortgage foreclosure litigation. The purpose of the article was to extol the alleged benefits of non-judicial foreclosure over judicial foreclosure. Without getting into the politics or relative merits of the contrasting systems, let’s take a quick look at some of the reported statistics as they pertain to Florida.
Citing a survey by the Mortgage Banker’s Association, the editorial reported that Florida is presently the state with the highest percentage of loans in foreclosure at 13.04%. It further reported that Florida rehired retired judges in 2012 to help with the case backlog and that, on average, a Florida real estate foreclosure action took 858 days to complete as of September 30, 2012, a significant increase from the 224 day average as of the beginning of 2008. While other states take longer (New York, for example, was reported to have an average of 1,072 days to complete a case), the article suggests that having a judicial foreclosure system during this time of heavy foreclosure volume results in a slower recovery in housing prices than what occurs in a non-judicial foreclosure state.
Looking ahead, the Journal editorial noted that, nationally, there are 1.58 million mortgages that are at least 90 days delinquent but not yet in foreclosure. It also cites Florida as the state with the biggest backlog of delinquent mortgages (in this case, defined as 30 days or more past due) and mortgages presently in foreclosure, putting the total figure at 19.8% of the State’s mortgage loans.
While the editorial did not specify, I believe the cited numbers refer largely to residential loans and are, in actuality, larger than reported due to commercial delinquency and foreclosure. Further, the article seems to indicate that, while we are well into the cycle of foreclosure, there are still a significant number of problem assets to contend with.