Contrary to popular belief, the foreclosure crisis is far from over in Sarasota.
Sarasota County lies within the 12th Judicial Circuit, which is comprised of Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto Counties. In mid-2013, our Circuit obtained additional funding from the Florida Legislature as part of the National Mortgage Settlement. The additional funding was used to hire several additional foreclosure case managers to process the court’s foreclosure paperwork: two Senior Judges (one in Sarasota and one in Manatee), as well as two Magistrates (one in Sarasota and one in Manatee), who will preside over only residential foreclosure cases. The goal is to clear as much of the foreclosure backlog as possible before the funding runs out in February of 2015.
As of June 30, 2013, there were approximately 14,109 foreclosure cases pending in our Circuit. With the implementation of the new resources, after only six months, (as of December 31, 2013, the most recent stats available as of this posting) the number of pending foreclosure cases dropped down to 10,891. During the first six months of the program, approximately 4,844 foreclosure cases were disposed of in some manner in our Circuit, (about a third of the backlog which existed at the inception of the program in June 2013), resulting in average monthly dispositions of 807 foreclosure cases per month between June 30 and December 31 of 2013.
During that same period of time, approximately 1,335 new foreclosure cases were filed circuit-wide (averaging 271 per month during that 6 month period), and continue to be filed at the rate close to three hundred additional foreclosure cases per month. Based on these figures only, the net dispositions (foreclosure cases disposed of less monthly new filings) were approximately 536 per month from June-December of 2013. At this rate, it will take close to two years (approximately 20 months or so, give or take) to clear up the current backlog, assuming the current additional funding resources were renewed after they run out in February of 2015.
Prior to the additional funding being received, a residential foreclosure could take as long as three or more years to move through the Court system. Those days are over. Although there is no question that foreclosures will move more quickly through the system with this funding in place, we still have a far way to go before the foreclosure crisis is considered over in Sarasota. As such, foreclosures will continue to affect real property values throughout the remainder of 2014 and likely well into 2015.