Distressed Sales Dominate Two-Thirds of Orlando Market

More than two-thirds of all April home sales in Orlando were distressed sales, with REO accounting for nearly half of total sales activity in the Central Florida market, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA). The association said 46% of all sales were REO listings, while 31% were short sales. The remaining 31% of Orlando home sales were traditional, non-distressed transactions. One in every 182 homes received a foreclosure filing in Florida, the third highest foreclosure rate in the country for the month of April, according to the online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac. Several initiatives are underway to slow rising foreclosures in Florida. The state supreme court implemented a foreclosure mediation program at the end of 2009, and, recently, JPMorgan Chase opened a series of centers to help struggling homeowners catch up on their mortgages; the latest opening in metro Orlando. But once the foreclosure takes place, the REO system in Orlando is proving to be efficient, according to ORRA associate chairman of the board, Kathleen Gallagher. “Bank-owned homes, which encompass those in all stages of foreclosure, have been feeding into the inventory pipeline at a fairly steady pace and are being absorbed manageably,” Gallagher said. “In fact, foreclosures are selling quickly, especially in the lower price ranges that are attractive to first-time home buyers.” The median price for REO sales increased 1.6% in April to $72,900, and the median price for short sales grew 1.7% to $115,000. According to ORRA, the boost in prices for these transactions pushed prices for the overall market. Prices in Orlando increased 4.5% in April to $115,000. However, it still remains 11.5% below the $130,000 median last year. But demand seems to be improving. The number of new contracts filed in April reached 5,221 a 53% jump from last year. The area’s pending sales reached a record high at 10,832 under contract and awaiting close, an 86% increase from last year. Write to Jon Prior.

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