In January, 112 foreclosed properties were advertised in the Cherokee Tribune, the county legal organ, reflecting a 61 percent fall compared to last January. The numbers are also down from December, when 141 properties hit the auction block.
Lewis Cline, senior vice president of Bank of North Georgia, said foreclosures are finally starting to stabilize after the Great Recession and it’s “indeed a welcomed event.”
“We are now just shy of pre-recession levels,” said Cline, who also took over as chairman for the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce this week. “With home prices increasing and low mortgage rates still available at this time, more people are no longer in a negative equity situation. I expect foreclosures to remain near or at pre-recession levels for 2014.”
Cline sees several factors at work keeping foreclosures down.
Those include the slowly falling unemployment rate and the fact mortgage companies have more options to work with borrowers. Another factor is the market is no longer dealing with pending foreclosures, which had previously been stalled in litigation and caused a spike in the statistics when the suits were resolved, according to Cline.
“As a result, housing inventory is very low,” Cline said. “That has resulted in home prices inching up with a good sales rebound.”
For Terry Moore, senior vice president and managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway, the real estate rebound has been plain to see, with far fewer foreclosures hitting the market and huge increases in sales.
“The business has totally changed,” she said. “It’s like it was in, say, 2004. I think we’re stabilizing.”
The lack of foreclosures has contributed the improving market, Moore said, although the changes also seem to be because of consumer confidence.
“A lot of it is how people feel,” Moore said. “I think people are more comfortable with the country and with the market.”
Moore said that’s good news for those in real estate.
“I’m just really glad to be on this side of the market,” she said. “I just feel like 2014 is going to be amazing.”