Foreclosure notices continue to fall in metro Atlanta

Monthly foreclosure notices continued their fall in March, according to new data from Kennesaw-based Equity Depot. The notices are down nearly 47 percent from last March. Totals for the first three months of 2013 are 43 percent lower than for the same period last year.

The Present

The 4,240 new metro Atlanta foreclosure notices filed this month in a 13-county area are at the lowest level since mid-2007, when foreclosures were on the upswing. In May 2007, there were 4,561 foreclosure notices in the state. Last month, 4,531 notices were filed. The March 2013 figure is down 69 percent from the peak of the housing crisis, when 13,834 new foreclosure notices were filed in November 2010.

The Future

If the trend continues at its current pace, as many experts predict, there will be fewer than 60,000 new foreclosure notices in metro Atlanta in 2013. That would be on par with the 58,076 foreclosure notices in 2007, before the housing meltdown was in full force. The 2013 trend would mark a 37 percent decrease from last year’s foreclosure notices. The annual total would be down nearly 55 percent from the peak, when 127,140 new notices were filed in 2010.

The Meaning

The decline in foreclosure notices shows an improving housing market. Foreclosed houses generally sell at a discount, which can lower overall home values. A lower foreclosure inventory improves the market for sellers. Already, home prices are rising — at the end of 2012, they were up nearly 10 percent over the previous year. Higher home prices improve the wealth and confidence of homeowners, often leading to increased consumer spending — key for an improving economy.