Foreclosure notices for metro Atlanta rose 22 percent in May from April, but the new figures released Tuesday require further explanation to get a better understanding of what’s going on.
First, the 9,530 notices in the 13-county metro area is a relatively small number during this housing crisis when there are five weeks in a month for lenders to prepare foreclosure ads for publication, said Barry Bramlett, president of Kennesaw-based Equity Depot, which compiled the data. May this year was such a month.
Over the past two years, the numbers generally have been running from a low of about 10,000 notices to a high of about 13,800 when there’s an extra week in a month for foreclosure notices to be prepared, Equity Depot data show.
Secondly, Bramlett said, the 22 percent monthly increase is coming off an April base of 7,784 notices — the lowest number in 27 months.
But what is not yet known, Bramlett said, is whether the situation is improving, or whether delays caused by the well-publicized document problems in the mortgage industry is affecting the figures. In other words, are there a lot more notices in the pipeline than the numbers reveal?
For the fourteenth month in a row, Gwinnett County had the most foreclosure notices — 1,971 — among the core metro counties. Fulton was second with 1,804 notices, followed by DeKalb (1,472), Cobb (1,152) and Clayton (791).
Foreclosure notices published this month are for auctions on the county courthouse steps set for next month. Sometimes, lenders and homeowners negotiate a reprieve that postpones an actual repossession. But, in many cases, that does not lead to a permanent solution.
“Interestingly, a record 65 percent of this month’s notices are historical repeats,” Bramlett said, meaning lenders are once again foreclosing on the same property. The average has been about 55 percent over the last two years, Bramlett said.
“The key factors that create foreclosures remain — high unemployment, a soft real estate market and underwater borrowers,” Bramlett said.
Foreclosure notices are still very high. But year-to-date, there has been a small decline. A total of 49,055 notices have been published for the first five months of the year, compared with 50,148 for the same period of 2010.
For all of last year, a record 127,140 notices were published. That was up from 117,107 in 2009 and 79,484 in 2008.
In 2006, before the subprime mortgage crisis hit, there were just under 45,000 foreclosure notices in the metro area, according to Equity Depot data.
- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat
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