The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 37 - June 4, 2008


The sky is not falling on Anna Maria

Have you been following the Bradenton Herald’s feature on foreclosures in Manatee County? If you have, you’re probably hiding under a rock about now thinking the sky is falling and that before long every house in the county will have overgrown lawns and pink slips on the doors. Well, I’m here to tell you the sky isn’t falling, at least not on Anna Maria Island.

Based on the helpful little map provided by the Herald indicating where the majority of the foreclosures in the county are located, it was starkly obvious there were not enough on Anna Maria Island to mention. I dug a little deeper during the last week of May and, according to RealtyTrac, Inc.’s Web site, these were the numbers: Anna Maria, no bank-owned and no pre-foreclosure properties; Holmes Beach, 10 bank-owned and 31 pre-foreclosure properties; Bradenton Beach, 43 bank-owned and 20 pre-foreclosure properties; Cortez, 1 bank-owned and 2 pre-foreclosure properties. Keep in mind these numbers are not always perfectly accurate and up-to-date. Also, one new condo complex in Bradenton Beach partly accounts for the high number of bank-owned in that city.

As stated, it is difficult to determine exactly how many bank-owned and pre-foreclosure properties there really are at any one time in Manatee County, but a quick search of Bradenton on RealtyTrac, Inc. indicated 552 bank-owned and 1165 pre-foreclosure, totaling 1717 compared to 107 in the four above communities.

Although the Bradenton Herald’s series did provide a lot of useful information on the foreclosure process, some of the personal stories were not always typical of individuals caught up in a foreclosure. In the first part of the series, the gentlemen featured on the front page of the main section was in the process of having his house foreclosed on, a heartbreaking event for anyone and something that we can all sympathize with. However, when you start to read the circumstances of this individual’s problem you quickly see that he was foreclosed on within five moths of purchase, had entered into a mortgage which he knew at the closing table he could not afford, and admitted he did not fully read the paperwork.

More typical are buyers who signed on to an adjustable rate mortgage, sometimes encouraged by mortgage brokers and lenders, they really did not understand and couldn’t afford. Several of these people were also profiled by the Herald, and most of them just didn’t do their homework or were unclear about the paperwork before they got to the closing table. After the adjustable reset to a higher rate, they found themselves not being able to make the payments. The lesson here is if you don’t understand something, stop the process, get legal advice and, if necessary, get out while you can. Having a foreclosure as part of your credit history will keep you out of owning another home for many, many years.

Of course, greedy investors and speculators, both large and small, encompass a large portion of the foreclosure and pre-foreclosure problem. Many of these investors are now either in foreclosure or sitting with properties that are upside down with a larger mortgage than the property is worth. It’s likely that the market has been negatively impacted more by these property owners than by the poor buyer who just wanted to own a home and got caught up in the real estate frenzy.

So now we know that the sky isn’t falling and you can crawl out from under your rock. Despite what you read, Anna Maria is in better shape than a lot of other areas of the county and the signs of recovery are sprouting up all over. Enjoy your home, enjoy the summer and don’t worry about the value of your home. Your kids’ inheritance eventually will be back.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper