Foreclosure rate in metro Atlanta improving

Foreclosure rates in metro Atlanta have dipped again, this time falling below 1 percent for the first time since the housing crisis started more than seven years ago.

The latest data – for May – shows foreclosures among outstanding mortgages at 0.99 percent, compared with 1.93 percent during the same month a year earlier, according to CoreLogic, a California-based firm that specializes in property information and analysis.

The improvement is another sign that the housing market and broader economy are continuing to heal.

The metro foreclosure rate is slightly higher than the rate for the state of Georgia. But the metro Atlanta is lower than the national rate, CoreLogic said. The overall U.S. foreclosure rate was 1.73 percent in May, down from 2.61 percent in May of 2013.

Rates of 90-day delinquency – that is, payments late by three months – are also declining in metro Atlanta, the state of Georgia and nationally. In May, the 90-day delinquency rate was 4.34 percent in metro Atlanta, compared to 5.95 percent a year earlier.

Delinquency rates reflect economic stress among homeowners, a measure of how much trouble homeowners are having paying their bills. As the Great Recession swept through the economy, millions of households faced a toxic mix of already high debts and layoffs that slashed their incomes.

The result was a skyrocketing rate of foreclosure.

For several years, households cut debts and struggled to keep or regain jobs. After hemorrhaging jobs, the economy stabilized, started to grow and to produce new jobs.

Nationally, an estimated 5 million Americans lost their homes. But bit by bit, households have rebuilt their financial stability. And the foreclosure numbers have gotten correspondingly better – albeit at a modest pace.