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South Florida still under a cloud of foreclosures and negative equity

Even as South Florida’s housing market has posted impressive gains in prices and sales volume, new data on foreclosures and negative equity show the region is still in some ways digging out from the housing debacle.

Corelogic reported that 40.7 percent of the mortgaged homes in the greater Miami area and 39.3 percent of those in the greater Fort Lauderdale area remained underwater in the first quarter. That’s roughly double the national average of 19.8 percent of all mortgaged homes, according to the Irvine, Calif.-based real-estate data firm.

Separately, RealtyTrac reported that foreclosure activity – including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – in Miami-Dade County jumped 78.4 percent in May from a year earlier. One of every 143 residences in Miami-Dade got some type of foreclosure notice during May, more than six times the national average of one of every 885 residences, according to the Irvine, Calif.-based data firm.

In Broward County, foreclosure activity spiked 112.8 percent in May from a year earlier. One of every 317 residences in Broward received some sort of foreclosure filing during May, RealtyTrac said.

Much of the foreclosure activity reflects lenders moving forward with cases that were long delayed while regulatory concerns about robo-signing and similar mishandling of delinquent loans were hashed out.

Corelogic’s report on the huge share of homes under water in South Florida helps explain the dearth of inventory of homes on the market in the region: Most homeowners are loath to put their house up for sale if it means having to pay out cash at the closing table to make up for the negative equity.

Like elsewhere in the nation, South Florida’s share of underwater homes is dwindling. The 40.7 percent share of Miami area homes underwater in the first quarter marked a 4 percentage point drop from a year earlier, although the level of negative equity ticked up slightly from 40.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.

In Fort Lauderdale, the share of homes with negative equity declined from 45.8 percent in the first quarter of 2012 and 41.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, Corelogic said.