PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Florida's foreclosure crisis may have an end in site. A new state Supreme Court ruling could reduce a huge backlog of homes stuck in pre-foreclosure.
Many of those homes now sit empty and without a designated caretaker.
George Griffith lives next to a home that hasn't been lived in for three years.
"The trees haven't been trimmed, the grass hasn't been done. It's a mess."
Griffith isn't sure what the homeowner has planned for the home, but he does know that it's condition is taking a toll on his own property value, which is already down nearly $200,000 in recent years due to the economy.
"Somebody drives by and they say, 'Oh my gosh. I don't want to live in this neighborhood. Look at that.' It's very frustrating because this is a great neighborhood with a lot to offer."
Beverly Garvin, Vice President of Watson Realty's office in Hidden Hills, says foreclosures are to blame for many falling property values across the state.
"Unfortunately when the bank owns the property, they do minimal maintenance on it."
Florida, has the second highest number of foreclosures in the state. An estimated 1 million homes will be foreclosed on by 2016. That process currently takes about 800 days, which is twice the national average.
To reduce the backlog, the Florida Supreme Court is now allowing attorneys, or "general magistrates" to handle foreclosures instead of judges.
Garvin says that could put people in homes faster.
"That means someone is going to move in there and take care of that property."
Foreclosed homes won't hit the market all at once, and once they do, they'll still likely sell for less, but overall Garvin feels the change will help the local market.
"If it moves them on forward so they can get them on the market, get sold, and get people living in them, it has to be good for the market."
Opponents argue the change is not good for homeowners, who have the right to a full judicial review of each case for their own protection. Action News is told homeowners can request that option according to the courts ruling.