NEW YORK, N.Y., May 26, 2011 /New York Netwire/ — reports that Florida foreclosed homes in April were down 14.81 percent in Florida than a month ago, and California was down 8.46 percent.

Florida had 9,353 Listings in March versus 7,968 listings in April of 2011, and California foreclosed homes were 9,898 in March versus 9,061 listings in April.

But observers say the drop is not necessarily a sign that Florida’s housing industry is turning any particular corner. Mortgage foreclosures declined in the first quarter from a record high as U.S. employment and personal income rose, signaling the economic recovery may be helping to limit mortgage defaults.

Why the numbers fall?

It may be more about longer foreclosure processing delay times than a general housing recovery. Nationally, it took an average of 400 days from the initial default notices to completion in the first quarter of 2011, up from 340 days a year ago. In 2007 the average time was 151 days to complete a foreclosure.

In some Florida jurisdictions, courts have established so-called rocket dockets – in place since December 2008 – to expedite the foreclosure process, yet the average foreclosure still consumed 619 days to complete during the first three months of 2011; more than three times higher than the 169 days it took in 2007.

On average, California homes in foreclosure last quarter took about 9.1 months to maneuver through the foreclosure process; up from 8.8 months for the prior quarter and 7.5 months a year earlier. The increase could reflect the massive lender backlogs and paperwork problems, legal and regulatory obstacles and further time needed to pursue loan modifications and short sales. Some California borrowers were in default on multiple loans, such as a primary mortgage and a line of credit, further exasperating the problem.

The top 5 cities in each state were:

Miami: -14%
Orlando: -17.1%
Fort Lauderdale: -14.4%
Tampa: -18.6%
West Palm Beach: -17.1%

Sacramento: -8.7%
Bakersfield: +0.7%
Los Angeles: -10.9%
Fresno: -6.6%
San Diego: -9.9%

Are there common reasons in each state?

Employment is the most important indicator for predicting future foreclosure activity. California’s unemployment picture improved slightly in April. Florida’s jobless rate may have bottomed out and a long, slow recovery may be beginning, leading speculators to believe this is perhaps contributing to fewer properties entering foreclosure proceedings.

Foreclosures are likely going to continue to be very high for a year or two, or more. About 6.4 million home loans were either delinquent or in foreclosure in April.

Before true growth can occur, Florida and California will need time to work through the considerable backlog of distressed properties, as well as continue to employ more people.