This July, Cherokee County saw 166 foreclosures advertised in the Cherokee Tribune, the county’s legal organ. That’s a 68 percent slash in the numbers compared to the 517 foreclosures advertised in July 2012.
Cherokee County’s foreclosure tally in July also is down from June when 195 properties were foreclosed on.
Local business leaders like Lewis Cline, senior vice president of Bank of North Georgia, say it’s good news, but numbers can be deceiving.
“The 68 percent decline in foreclosures from July 2012 to July 2013 is because of a high number of pending foreclosures that were halted or slowed due to pending legal action against the nation’s largest mortgage lenders,” he said. “Once that was settled early 2012, those pending foreclosures then proceeded.”
But Cline said despite these lawsuits skewing the figures, there is still room for optimism.
“Taking this event into consideration, normal foreclosure percentages are continuing to drop,” he said. “In addition, the number of households behind on their mortgage payments has continued to decline.”
David Moody, broker for ERA Sunrise Realty, said there are more than a few factors at play keeping foreclosures down, but the availability of houses for sale is the greatest cause.
“Our prices are continuing to increase, and most of that is due to the low inventory,” Moody said.
With the going rate for homes on the market on the rise, homeowners previously unable to unload their homes on the market often can.
“The economy overall, nationally and in Cherokee, has stabilized,” he said. “Under water people can put homes on market for a higher price.”
Cline agreed the inventory of homes on the market plays a role.
“No longer is adequate supply of housing inventory being accomplished through foreclosures and short sales, but new housing starts are beginning to flourish in order to meet current demand,” he said.
The decrease in Cherokee foreclosures can also be attributed to the slow but steady job growth and fall in unemployment rates in the county.
“As we continue to see that, you’ll continue to see people that were under water before have the ability to sell and not have to go to foreclosure,” Moody said.
Cline also looks for the dips in the numbers to continue.
“I expect foreclosure trends to continue to drop slowly the next 12 months even though some monthly spikes can occur,” he said.