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5 Best Places to Buy Foreclosures in 2013

Fifth-best market: Lakeland, Fla.

Blomquist says Florida's seesawing housing market -- which boomed in the early 2000s, then went bust around 2007 -- hit Tampa so hard that the downturn spilled over to Lakeland, a 590,000-population metro area some 35 miles away.

"A lot of times 'ex-urban' communities around a really hot area are very affected by a boom and bust," he says. "There's a lot of homebuilding in such places during the boom, but then there's an oversupply of houses when the bust hits."

As a result, Lakeland -- best known as the Detroit Tigers' spring training home -- saw foreclosure filings rise 95.7% during 2012.

Distressed properties also accounted for a quarter of all homes sold there during the January-to-October period, while RealtyTrac found the area has a 34-month glut of foreclosures on the market.

Blomquist attributes much of the backlog to Florida's strict judicial-foreclosure rules.

RealtyTrac found that the average Sunshine State foreclosure finalized during 2012's fourth quarter took 853 days to complete -- more than double the 414-day national average.

Of course, that means Lakeland-area foreclosure buyers enjoyed a 28.05% average discount during 2012's first 10 months, according to RealtyTrac. Blomquist expects similar bargains in 2013.
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