In February, 102 foreclosed properties were advertised in the Cherokee Tribune, the county legal organ. That counted as a 48 percent decrease compared to the 196 February 2013, making this February the latest in many recent months of significant drops.
Dennis Burnette, Cherokee County chairman at Hamilton State Bank, said he expects the numbers to continue to fall throughout 2014, although things might not be as good as they seem.
“Things are not necessarily great out there in the world. But they’re better than they were,” he said. “We hit the bottom, now we’re bouncing back up but not high enough.”
Burnette said the housing market has seen improvement, allowing some people in trouble to sell their property before foreclosure. But he added banks are still getting “jingle mail,” which is when the banks get an envelope with the keys to a house from people who choose to just give their houses back rather than endure foreclosure.
“Despite there being some improvement in home sales, there are still an awful lot of people that owe more on their houses than what they can sell them for,” he said.
For Wanda Roach, a Realtor with ERA Sunrise Realty, Cherokee County’s foreclosure numbers in February were no surprise, considering an increase in home prices and a lack of houses for sale on the market.
“Every month they’re going down,” she said. “It has affected our sales. Our inventory is just down — period. A lot of us have buyers and no homes. A lot of us are seeing multiple offers.”
Like Burnette, Roach anticipates foreclosures to continue to fall.
“I think we’re going to see that,” she said, although “we’ve never been in a period where there was no foreclosures.”
In the housing market, Roach also attributes pent up demand from the Great Recession and a slowly restoring consumer confidence to the improvements in sales of existing and new homes.
“In the new subdivisions, (houses are) going very fast,” she said. “Even before they get out of the ground they’re buying them.”