Florida Real Estate Market Ranks Highest in Short Sales

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PANAMA CITY BEACH Recent studies show the Florida real estate market ranks the highest in short sales.

A short sale involves selling a home that has more money owed on it than it's even worth.

Since 2010, the number of short sale properties have gone down, but it's still a widespread issue.

Realtors said that's because most people look to buy second homes here.

"We have an awful lot of investors here that were buying second homes and as people bought condos and second homes close to the beach, in the times of '05 and '06, that was pretty easy money to get and then as the economics deteriorated people couldn't hang on to them," Keith Hodges, president of the Realtors Association, said.

Short sales must be approved by the bank before a buyer can close and that process can take anywhere from two months to a couple years.

It depends on how many banks are involved, and whether they are local.

Take this home on Shadow Bay Drive. It's been on the short sale market for three years.

The air conditioning no longer works, the landscaping is overgrown, and two banks are involved.

Eight people have tried to buy the home, and then changed their mind.

"Real estate agents tell me that the average market value of a home in this area can be anywhere between $180,000 and $800,000 depending on the property type. This one home could be responsible for dragging all of those market prices down."

But realtors say there is good news.In the past few years, short sales are going down.

Since January of this year, 101 homes have been put on the short sale market. Of those, 42 have been closed and 59 are still open.

"Short sales are dwindling. We're doing about a third of what we were doing in 2009."

Because of the long wait, real estate agents say only 30 to 40 percent of short sales ever close.