RealtyTrac says that Flagler County’s foreclosures grew by 51% in January. The County Clerk’s Office indicates no growth. Why the difference?
Palm Coast, FL – February 11, 2010 – A front page Daytona Beach News-Journal article today reporting on home defaults stated, "There were 255 foreclosure filings in Flagler County in January, up 51 percent from the 169 filings in January 2009." The N-J got their numbers from California-based RealtyTrac, a well known and widely quoted data gathering and reporting company. Their numbers make for a dramatic story, but the Flagler County Clerk of Courts recorded 219 foreclosures in January 2009 and only 216 in January 2010. Why the difference?
There are two problems. The first is that national data collection companies have to rely on other sources for their information. The timeliness, relevance, and accuracy of information may be questionable. For instance Zillow provides an indication of the value of your home but it’s based on the per square foot selling price of nearby homes. Zillow doesn’t know if your home has a pool or if it is on a lake, golf course or canal.
Second, there may be several dates associated with a foreclosure. An examination of actual recorded Lis Pendens uncovered one with a July ’09 date stamp, and an August ’09 date stamp. The clerk’s office recorded this LP in January 2010.
The News-Journal uses RealtyTrac. I use the Clerk’s office recording date. Both reports are accurate within the context of their sources, but the large disparity should warn us not to rely too much on them. Trends over time provide a much more accurate picture than snapshots in time.
Foreclosure filings based on Flagler County Clerk of Courts Recording Date:
While month-to-month variations can be big, the overall trend is less dramatic. The total of lis pendens filed in 2009 was 2,598, down 5.7% from 2,755 in 2008. Doesn’t make much of a headline, does it?