In April, 119 foreclosures were advertised in the Cherokee Tribune, the county legal organ. That was a 54 percent decrease from the same month in 2013. The number was on par with the first three months of this year, months when the rate was also down by double digits from 2013.
Steve Holcomb, president of United Community Bank and member of the Cherokee County Development Authority, said the decrease from last year is “a very positive indicator.”
“We feel confident that we’re past those worst times,” he said Friday. “Most of the economic factors have been very positive. There’s no question that the overall strength of the economy is coming back step by step.”
Holcomb attributed the decrease in foreclosure to other positive trends in the broader economy, such as the unemployment rate and home values.
Wanda Roach, a Realtor with ERA Sunrise Realty, had a similar take on the numbers.
“I think people are working out keeping their homes. I think the job market has increased, and values are going up, because the inventory is much lower than it was a year ago. In certain price ranges, we’re seeing multiple offers, and the offers being considerably higher than what the list price was,” Roach said Friday.
Exactly how much more the foreclosure rate will fall isn’t yet clear, Roach said.
“I hope this continues on; it has steadily improved for the last few months,” she said. “Hopefully we’re good through the end of the year. The interest rates are still good. They’ve gone up a little bit, but not anything really significant.”
Dennis Burnette, Cherokee County chairman at Hamilton State Bank, said, the decrease in foreclosures from last year was a “tremendous improvement,” likely due in part to fewer people having trouble selling their homes when they fall behind.
But he cautioned such declines might not continue at the same rate.
“To expect it to continue to decrease by 50 percent a year from now is probably not realistic,” he said Friday. “You could make the case that we’re bottoming out. I think we’re near the bottom of forecloses, but I don’t think the bottom is zero — I think the bottom is the 90 to 100 range.”
Still, he said, “we have come a long way from this time last year.”