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Swing State Housing Scorecard: Florida Taps Romney

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In the week before the presidential election, RealtyTrac is releasing a series of housing articles — dubbed the ‘Swing State Housing Scorecard’ — taking a closer look at eight swing states representing 95 electoral votes — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. These states are considered tossups and crucial to winning the White House. The articles will evaluate how each state will lean if voters choose a candidate based on whether the housing market is better off (Obama) or worse off (Romney) than four years ago.

Swing State Housing Scorecard: Florida Taps Romney
On the eve of the presidential election four years ago, Florida homeowners understood that the Sunshine State’s housing markets were in shambles, and a new direction was required, and Senator Barack Obama was a man of destiny.

Four years later, housing remains one of Florida’s most complex problems, a quagmire stymieing the state’s judicial system and besieging the state’s underwater homeowners.

According to RealtyTrac’s Swing State Housing Scorecard, the key data impacting the housing market are average home prices, unemployment, foreclosure inventory, foreclosure starts and percent of distressed sales. Florida’s housing market is worse off compared to four years ago based on four of the metrics — falling  average home prices, rising unemployment, increasing foreclosure inventory, and growing foreclosure sales — while only one metric paints the picture of a housing market that is better off than four years ago (foreclosure starts are down in Florida).

Housing is still stormy in the Sunshine state, which has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation and the unemployment rate remains high. With its 29 electoral votes, swing state status, and large Hispanic population in south and  central Florida, the Sunshine State is a must-win for both the Republicans and Democrats. President Obama narrowly carried Florida in 2008, but stubbornly high unemployment and a recent wave of backlogged foreclosures may complicate  the incumbent’s path to victory.

Since President Obama was elected in 2008, the percent of distressed sales has increased 16 percent, growing from 17.95 percent of all sales in the second quarter of 2008 to 20.80 percent of all sales in Q2 2012. Additionally, the average price of a Florida home plunged 37 percent in four years, falling from $220,205 in July 2008 to $139,599 in July 2012.

“Currently, Lee County, Fla., for the month of September has a backlog of 9,612 foreclosure  cases,” said Marc Joseph, broker/owner of Marc Joseph Realty, in Fort Myers, Fla. “These backlog cases indicate that this area of Florida still has a long way to go before the housing market recovers.”

No state was more affected by the housing crisis than Florida. Over half a million Floridians have lost their homes to foreclosure since President Obama was elected in 2008, despite some $50 billion in federal housing aid nationwide. Unemployment  in Florida rose 24 percent in the last four years, rising from 7 percent in  September 2008 to 8.7 percent in September 2012.

Moreover, foreclosure inventory rose11 percent from 245,394 distressed properties in September 2008 to 373,040 properties in September 2012. However, foreclosure starts are down 53 percent, tumbling from 31,680 foreclosure starts in September 2008 to 14,750 in September 2012.

Florida in now ranked No.1 in the nation in the number of homes in foreclosure and the number of people on the verge of losing their homes is swelling. And Realtors like Joseph are getting impatient.

“We all have our own views on whom to vote for, but for me as a small business owner, I am voting for Governor Romney because we need change,” he said. “In four years, I would like to look back and  say I made the right choice, however, only time will tell. The facts will be reviewed four years from now and the proof will be in the status of Florida’s jobs, the economy and growth in the housing market.”

Other Swing State Housing Scorecards:
Colorado Favors Romney
Nevada May Double Down on Obama


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