Financially 'underwater' properties swamp Bradenton, Fla.

Most Manatee County homeowners who fell into foreclosure last month were financially "underwater," property and court records show.

Two out of every three owed more on their property than what it is worth, according to a Bradenton Herald analysis of property tax records and September foreclosure filings. The average deficit was $72,098.

The Herald’s findings didn’t surprise foreclosure experts, who said Monday that most Florida homeowners have been financially swamped by freefalling home values.

"I would have estimated it as closer to 100 percent," said Shari Olefson, a Fort Lauderdale foreclosure attorney and author of "Foreclosure Nation: Mortgaging the American Dream."

The average underwater homeowner in Manatee who was hit with a foreclosure suit in September owed $282,268 on a home valued at $210,170, the Herald’s analysis showed.

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