The legal notices section of the Cherokee Tribune, the county’s legal organ, listed 196 foreclosed properties last Friday.
February’s numbers mark a sharp decline for the month and the year. A total of 285 properties were listed the first Friday in January. In February 2012, the Tribune’s legal listings included 337 foreclosures.
Dennis Burnette, president and CEO of Cherokee Bank, said this month’s lower numbers aren’t a fluke.
“I’m beginning to feel that we may be into a trend now where we will see foreclosures at a lower level in 2013 than we did in 2012,” he said.
An increase in short sales could be a factor in the decrease in foreclosures, Burnette said.
“Mortgage companies have kind of gotten their act together as to how to evaluate whether they should allow a borrower to sell the house for less than the mortgage amount,” he said. “It seems like I’ve been hearing more and more, from individuals and realtors, that short sales are occurring.”
But foreclosures won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
Lewis Cline, senior vice president of Bank of North Georgia, said he thinks foreclosure numbers will continue to be up and down in the coming months, but the overall trend should show fewer properties being foreclosed.
“There are still many homeowners in danger of foreclosure in Georgia,” he said. “With 32 percent of homeowners seriously underwater, there will be latent foreclosures as a result of that in 2013.”
Foreclosure legal notices must be published for four consecutive Fridays before a property can be sold at auction. Not all properties advertised end up at auction.
Auctions are scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month on the steps of the Cherokee County Courthouse in Canton. March’s auction will be March 5.