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Refer to WWSB ABC Channel 7. It’s the number one ranking the state of Florida would like to do without. The Sunshine State continues to lead the entire nation in the number of foreclosures.

“When you can’t have enough money to take care of your family to put food on the table, usually the mortgage is one of those things that people will skip,” said Joe Murphy, a Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker.

“It definitely still is a problem, most of the work that we’re doing now with foreclosures are cases that have been pending for many years,” said Sheryl Edwards, a Real Estate Attorney in Sarasota.

Fortunately, things are looking up or we should say looking down. Statistics show that Florida did see a 37 percent decline in the number of foreclosures compared to a year ago. The numbers in our area are looking much better than they did 5 years ago. Back in 2011, the foreclosure rate in the Sarasota-Manatee region was around 12.2 percent, today it’s holding steady at around 1.7 percent.

“Our property values have gone up over 30 percent since the bottom of the market,” said Murphy, “if you have enough equity to be able to sell the home then you can afford to actually sell the property if you’re in a distressing situation.”

Real estate experts tell us a big reason why the state of Florida and the Sarasota-Manatee region has experienced this dramatic drop in foreclosures is many more homeowners are taking the initiative to work with their lenders to find a solution such as a mortgage modification or short sale.

“It is best to be proactive in the process as early in the process as possible,” said Edwards.

The reality of foreclosures is that it can hit anybody at any time. Foreclosed properties are in neighborhoods everywhere, some are recognizable, others are not.

Murray Davenport lives right across the street from this foreclosed home in Lakewood Ranch. He tells us this is something he doesn’t want to have so close to his home. Until recently, the home was an eyesore with mildew, mold, and a yard that was a total mess.

“We certainly hope that somebody buys it who will own it and live in it as opposed to an investor who wants to rent it out,” said Davenport, “but it looks much better than it did.”

Foreclosure numbers in the state and locally can very easily increase because there are plenty of homes on the verge of being foreclosed on. There are currently at least 5500 homes in Sarasota and Manatee Counties that are in lis pendens, in other words, they’re homes in limbo where foreclosure on those homes is likely to happen. Many more homes are considered to be a Zombie listing, which real estate experts say there are tens of thousands just in the state of Florida alone.

“These properties that are unoccupied and the banks are just not acting on it in terms of foreclosure,” said Murphy.

For anyone who finds themselves on the verge of foreclosure, experts have this advice.

“The worst thing that you can do is to do nothing,” said Edwards, “if you ignore the problem, you are going to end up with the worst result.”

If you have a problem with a possible foreclosure situation, consider calling Caroline Secor. Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida. For more information, go to our web site or call 727-335-7151.