Home sales in Florida have been tracking not far off from home sales nationwide, but despite this and despite population growth, there are now 1 million fewer mortgages in the Sunshine state than there were seven years ago.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel has the story.

Florida now has more than a million fewer mortgages than seven years ago, as foreclosures have forced property owners out of the market, according to a study released Wednesday.

The 25 percent loss was the largest drop in the country, said Steve Chaouki, executive vice president for TransUnion, the credit information company that gathered the report.

The number of mortgages in Florida fell from nearly 4.3 million in the third quarter in 2007 to 3.2 million for the same period in 2014, Chaouki said.

He attributed much of the state's loss in mortgages to the record number of foreclosures and short sales during the recession. In many cases the distressed properties were bought by buyers who paid cash, Chaouki said.

He did not have numbers for South Florida but suggested that the region's loss was comparable to the state overall, since the state's largest metro area accounts for much of Florida's home sales.

Indeed, cash sales for homes have dominated South Florida, with about six of 10 real estate transactions in Broward and Palm Beach counties completed without a mortgage, according to a report last month by RealtyTrac, a foreclosure listing firm based in Irvine, Calif.

That's because many wealthy people from outside Florida have paid cash for properties, said Jorge Carrillo-Salazar, a Florida International University economist.

"This has become a popular destination with the Northeastern crowd, the Latin Americans," he said. "Now the Chinese are coming."