Survey Shows Foreclosures Affect Many Floridians

Amidst the rise of foreclosures across the state, the annual Fund Homeownership survey recently found that 16% of Florida homeowners have been or know somebody who has been in the foreclosure process.

The survey also showed that Florida foreclosures are not tied to one specific region or income group with more than 10% of homeowners in nearly every market surveyed and more than 15% of homeowners in each of the three income brackets listed reporting they have been directly involved or know somebody who has been involved in a foreclosure.

The annual survey, commissioned by Attorneys' Title Insurance Fund's Consumer Education Campaign, polled 1,415 homeowners throughout the state June 11-25.

When asked how they felt about the prospect of purchasing foreclosed properties, 56% said they would consider buying a foreclosed home while only 17% said they would not consider buying one. Income was also not a factor in foreclosure rates. According to the survey results, Florida homeowners with higher income levels proved to be even more open to this prospect with 71% of homeowners with an annual income of $100,000 and above and 62% of homeowners with an income between $50,000 and $100,000 saying they would consider buying a foreclosed property.

"A common misconception among Florida homeowners and consumers is that foreclosures disproportionately affect the lower-income brackets and most often occur in poorer neighborhoods when in reality, foreclosures are occurring in every price range and in every market across the state," explained Charles J. Kovaleski, president of Attorneys' Title Insurance Fund.

"Florida consumers need to realize how prevalent foreclosures are in Florida so that they can be sure to take the necessary precautions for current and future purchases, like incorporating a real estate attorney in the real estate process to protect themselves and their investment."

The survey also indicates how homeowners view real estate attorneys. For example, homeowners ranked buying a new or existing home as the most important situation in which one should hire a real estate attorney (49%) and felt that the most valuable trait of a real estate attorney was their ability to protect the home buyer's interests (40%). Yet, when asked if they have ever consulted with an attorney, only half (49%) of Florida homeowners indicated that they had consulted a real estate attorney in the past.

"Foreclosures create a whole new category of homes and potential buyers should take caution noting that these properties may have liens or other debts against the title that need to be cleared first," said Mr. Kovaleski. "A significant portion of Florida homeowners have consulted an attorney and this is reassuring, as they are the only player in the real estate process who can ensure that foreclosure laws and procedures - that differ widely from state to state - are fully understood and carried out."

More than half of Florida homeowners (56%) would consider buying a foreclosed home. Just over one-fourth (27%) are uncertain as to whether or not they would consider purchasing a foreclosed home and only 17% would not consider doing so.

Homeowners in Miami-Dade County, 66%, Ft. Myers-Naples, 65%, and Gainesville, 65%, are more likely to consider buying a foreclosed home compared to other markets surveyed.

About one in six (16%) of homeowners have been through the foreclosure process themselves or know someone who has. Significantly more homeowners in Gainesville (29%) have been through foreclosure or know someone who has. Regarding mortgage fraud, 4% of Florida homeowners reported that they have been the victim of mortgage fraud or know someone who has.

Compared to all Florida, the survey found there were slightly more Hispanic homeowners who reported to have been the victim of mortgage fraud.

When purchasing a home, Floridians are most confused with understanding real estate laws and closing process/paperwork.

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