In March, 114 properties were advertised in foreclosure in the Cherokee Tribune, the county legal organ, marking a 44 percent decrease compared to March 2013.
The decrease was on par with January and February, and was also the latest in many recent months of double-digit declines in the county’s foreclosure numbers, when compared to the same months last year.
Lewis Cline, senior vice president of Bank of North Georgia, said there are many factors at play keeping the statistics down, including positive trends in new home building, property values, mortgage rates and unemployment.
“The economic trends are more positive than in the past six years,” he said. “All of these factors have led to a foreclosure rate that is very close to pre-recession percentages.”
Another factor, Cline said, is that the market is no longer dealing with pending foreclosures, which were previously stalled in litigation and caused a spike in the statistics when the suits were resolved.
Cline said he expects foreclosures in Cherokee to remain stable.
“With the Southeast region of the United States being favorable for strong economic growth the next 20 years, I expect foreclosures to continue to remain stable and the overall housing market to continue to slowly rebound,” he said.
Lisa Morton, lead listing specialist for Keller Williams real estate team the Premier Group, said she’s seen fewer and fewer foreclosed properties hitting the market as home values increase, clearing the way for sales.
“It makes sense because, as home values rise, less and less homeowners are underwater on their mortgages,” said Morton, whose real estate group is based in Woodstock. “The main cause of the rise in value is the shortage of homes currently on the market, while strong buyer demand exists.”
It’s the “simple law of supply and demand” at work, she said.
Cline also said demand is greater than supply in Cherokee County.
But while fewer homes are being foreclosed on, Morton said there are other factors keeping foreclosures off the market.
“The big hedge fund and capital fund groups are routinely buying properties on the courthouse steps, in some cases, a couple of hundred properties a month across various metro Atlanta counties,” she said. “This phenomenon means less foreclosures listed for ‘normal’ buyers to purchase and keeps the inventory low.”