Since April, foreclosures have declined from 119 to 87, a positive outlook for the county’s economy. The number of foreclosed houses continued to drop in May to 95, then to 88 in June.
Steve Holcomb, president of United Community Bank and member of the Cherokee County Development Authority, said while the numbers have dropped tremendously since last year, it could be easing off some.
“We’ve seen the largest improvement ... and some banks are still dealing with it. Foreclosures will continue, but we could see it easing off more,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb said there’s still room for improvement, and as unemployment rates decrease, the foreclosures will also decrease.
“We’re not back to where we want to be, but we’re continuing to take the right direction to lower the foreclosure rate,” Holcomb said. “I expect it to lower at a steadier pace than the significantly fast rate we saw this past year.”
Wanda Roach, a Realtor with ERA Sunrise Realty, said two factors are playing a role in the reduction of foreclosures — job market improvement and low interest rates.
“I think people who are now employed are able to make their payments due to the job market improving,” Roach said. “We have such a low inventory right now, it’s helped us to bring the house prices up, and we’re starting to see bidding wars and people buying it for a price higher than what was listed.”
She said the first six months of the year have been successful for her and other agents as people continue to slowly climb out of the recession.
“People are still interested in buying foreclosures, there’s just a lot less to choose from, but the good thing is interest rates remain low and allow people to qualify, then go ahead and buy,” Roach said.
Lisa Morton, listing specialist for the Premier Group, based in Woodstock, said another factor that is helping decrease foreclosures quickly is big investment fund groups buying the properties before they even hit the market.
“There’s been a definite steady decrease in foreclosures and short sales, and a lot of what’s driving that is big investment fund groups buying foreclosed properties on the courthouse steps and they’re not even hitting the market,” Morton said. “Those companies are purchasing a lot of homes in Cherokee and metro Atlanta and will have a plan to rent them out for the next five to seven years.”
Morton noted since those companies are buying the foreclosures then renting the properties, it plays a role in the low inventory. However, she expects as new construction begins, realtors and buyers will see a shift and have more inventory to choose from.