Distressed home sales in the United States reached their highest level since April 2009, and data released Thursday shows St. Lucie County’s rate is even higher.

In its first monthly report on distressed sales activity, California-based First American CoreLogic said an analysis of transactions involving mortgaged residential properties indicates that short sales and real estate owned (REO) sales accounted for 29 percent of all sales of single-family residences, including condominiums, in the United States in January.

The percentage of distressed sales is even higher in St. Lucie County.

In January, almost 47 percent of the 391 homes and condos sold were distressed sales, 94 short sales and 88 REOs.

None of this is a surprise, but these numbers are very alarming. Realtors and Investors are working very hard to sell these distressed properties, but there’s still more to come.

Distressed sales peaked nationwide in January 2009 at 32 percent of all sales. After the peak in early 2009, the distressed sale share fell to 23 percent in July, before rising again in late 2009 and continuing into 2010.

And in St. Lucie County, 26.7 percent of mortgages were at least 90 days in arrears in February, another report by First American CoreLogic said. That’s the third-highest rate among Florida counties and up from 26.6 percent in January. Osceola County is first at 30.8 percent.

First American CoreLogic says foreclosure rate is a measure of the percentage of loans in some stage of foreclosure, from 90-day delinquencies through properties sold at auction. It does not represent the number of new foreclosure filings or foreclosure cases filed in court.

We all knew Florida was one of the hardest hit markets, but many of us were thinking it was over or at least rebounding. But, the top 10 markets for foreclosures are all in Florida, only two Florida markets — Orlando and Cape Coral — made the top 10 distressed sale list. First American’s analysts said the most likely reason is that Florida processes foreclosures through the courts, which takes quite a bit longer than in California, Arizona or Nevada, where non-judicial foreclosures are the norm.

Just another example of why we have to use our InvestorCompsOnline accounts to get good real estate comps and get the training necessary to stay on top of changes in the market.

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