Moratorium on Home Foreclosures Announced

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist and representatives of Florida lending institutions today announced a 45-day moratorium on home foreclosures.
Meanwhile, statistics released today showed that foreclosure filings dropped sharply to 1,681 in Lee County in November while permits issued for single-family homes in the unincorporated county fell to a record low of 14. Crist called a news conference with Alex Sanchez, head of the Florida Bankers Association, and Aletta Shutes, representing the state’s credit unions, to proclaim the “voluntary” respite for troubled homeowners. They emphasized that the break only applies to homesteads, not people who purchased property as speculators. “This is to help people who really need help,” said Crist. “This is not for people who bought a lot of condos on spec.”About 30 percent of the foreclosure actions in Lee County in recent months have been homesteaded properties.
Mark Morris, president and CEO of Commerce Bank of Southwest Florida, said of Crist’s action that “his heart’s in the right place.”But, he said, “My concern ultimately is, ‘Does this ultimately delay the overall recovery by pushing it back a period of time?’ I can certainly understand over the holiday season not wanting to upset the homeowners in this particular time of need. I also worry about the fairness between not foreclosing on someone and the next-door neighbor who’s got a second job and trying to keep his payments current.”Morris noted that the county’s courts are clogged with foreclosures so any filed now would not result in someone actually losing a home until months after Christmas. “It’s a moot point.”
The number of foreclosure actions in Lee County in November was down from the all-time record of 2,665 in October, says a study by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investors Association.
Single-family-home permits in the unincorporated county were down from a record low of 30 in October and 54 in November 2007, the county Department of Community Development says.There were six multifamily units permitted in the unincorporated county during November, compared to 52 the previous month and 10 in November 2007. Permits were issued for 10 new commercial buildings valued at $1.2 million in the unincorporated county, compared to $3.8 million the previous month. In November 2007, newly permitted commercial buildings were valued at $9.5 million.Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel compile their own permitting statistics.There were 4 permits pulled in the Cape and none in Fort Myers Beach. Numbers from Sanibel and Bonita Springs weren’t available this morning.Meanwhile, the county court system is starting a concerted effort this month to process more than 25,000 foreclosure lawsuits backed up in the system.Two circuit and four senior judges will start the process with a docket of 902 foreclosure cases Thursday. A recent typical day might have about 100 or more, said Wendy McCabe, civil supervisor.During the next three to four months, judges will try to work down the buildup caused by more than 2,000 foreclosure filings per month. Courtesy Fort Myers News Press.
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