Cherokee County saw an almost 50 percent dip in the number of foreclosures in the month of August, and some say the drop is a sure sign the economy is improving.
A total of 143 foreclosures were advertised in the Cherokee Tribune, the county legal organ, for the month of August, which is a considerable drop from the 282 advertised in August 2012. The numbers are also down from July when Cherokee County saw 166 foreclosures.
Steve Holcomb, president of United Community Bank in Canton, said Friday that the decrease is a “tremendous” sign.
On the whole, Holcomb said he and his colleagues are continuing to see signs of better economic days in Cherokee County and around the country.
“The housing market has seen a lift throughout the nation, but most importantly, we’ve seen a lift in Georgia,” he said.
But despite the recovery in the market, the decrease in the month of August can’t be totally attributed to the improving economy.
Holcomb said the numbers are somewhat skewed, because many foreclosures were postponed several years ago because of pending lawsuits against the nation’s leading mortgage lenders. The stalled foreclosures forced tallies to plummet around the country. And as most of the suits were resolved, the delayed repossessions went through and the market saw a huge spike in foreclosures last summer, Holcomb said. However, “the trends are good.”
Brent Ellis, a Realtor with ERA Sunrise Realty, too said he’s seeing improvement in the housing market.
Ellis said Friday he is noticing fewer and fewer foreclosed homes for sale.
“The homes my buyers are asking to see are not foreclosures,” Ellis said.
But that wasn’t the case not too long ago.
“It used to be 80 percent of the homes we were showing had nobody in them,” Ellis said, as the homes had been foreclosed.
In recent months, though, Ellis said he has been pleased to see more homeowners leaving their houses not by foreclosure, but by sale.
Cherokee County Association of Realtors President Susan West agreed Friday that fewer foreclosures are finding their way to the market.
Although the economy is improving overall, West said the chief reason for the decline in foreclosures is that banks are more often facilitating short sales, which is when lenders accept less than what is owed on a property.
“That’s the big thing,” West said. “Banks are getting incentives for short sales.”
Using short sales to avoid foreclosure can be beneficial, she said.
“In the long run, it saves the bank more money,” West said. “It also helps out the homeowners.”
Holcomb too said banks around the country have been more willing to work with borrowers in recent years.
“No one wants to see anyone foreclosed,” he said. “That doesn’t benefit anybody; it doesn’t benefit the homeowner; it truly doesn’t benefit the bank. It hurts everybody.”