Real Estate

The Economy May Be Recovering, But Miami's Foreclosure Mania Isn't Close To Over

Riptide was feeling all warm and fuzzy this morning. No, it wasn't just from all the vodka in our coffee. (What, like you don't start your day with a little 'Russian java'?)

The latest employment numbers came out this morning, and it looks like our Kanye-on-the-VMAs-esque disaster of an economy is finally on the rebound. The ArmaRecession may finally be hitting rock bottom. Yay!

But then we talked to Peter Zalewski, head of Condo Vultures and both Riptide and Michael Moore's favorite messenger of doom on our housing market. Zalewski just released some new foreclosure numbers for the area, and damned if they didn't sober us right up out of our Moscow espresso haze.

On average, South Florida lenders filed foreclosure papers on 272 properties every single day last month, according to Zalewski's research.

"It's still a lot of foreclosures compared to past years," Zalewski says.

The October foreclosure-fest means that lenders in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami are on pace for 98,000 foreclosures this year -- a huge leap from the 33,000 they filed in 2007, according to Zalewski's research.

Still, Zalewski's research isn't all gloom and doom. Believe it or not, the October numbers actually leveled off from the fevered foreclosure rate earlier this year, when it looked like the three South Florida counties might top 100,000 properties underwater in 2010.

"Unless there's a major change in policy by the government, the biggest volume of foreclosures is probably already behind us," Zalewski says.

Zalewski has more semi-good news for the Magic City. According to his numbers, most of the new foreclosures are in cookie-cutter 'burbs in Homestead and Kendall. The famously overbuilt condo market in Brickell, downtown and South Beach has probably already hit rock bottom.

"Most of the foreclosures we're seeing now are in the places where unemployment is the worst," he says. "When you look at the common Jane and Joe, they probably aren't as financially savvy as the speculators who got out quick in the luxury areas, so they're just now starting to really fall behind."

You know what? On second thought, that doesn't sound like such great news at all. Pass the vodka, sir.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink