Georgia’s foreclosure activity ranking drops

Georgia foreclosure activity dropped noticeably in February, but it remains uncertain if the improvement will continue, given the challenge many homeowners still face in landing good-paying jobs.

RealtyTrac reported Thursday that Georgia was the seventh-worst state for February foreclosure activity, but that was a better showing than its No. 4 ranking in January.

Georgia had 5,767 foreclosure-related filings last month, a 27 percent drop from January and half the activity from a year ago.

It’s too early, however, to determine if Georgia is finally turning a corner, given high unemployment and that many new jobs are paying less than previous positions, according to Scott Scredon of CredAbility, formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

“Unemployment and loss of income is certainly the No. 1 reason why people fell behind (on mortgage loans),” Scredon said Thursday. “The difficulty people are facing now is that even though job growth is picking up, most people are getting jobs at lower salaries than they are used to getting.”

The unemployment rate in metro Atlanta and Georgia was at 8.7 percent in January. That leaves the possibility of foreclosure a real threat to many looking for jobs.

Consumers facing foreclosure may benefit from the $8.5 billion settlement that major mortgage companies reached in January with federal regulators over abusive foreclosure practices in 2009 and 2010. The settlement also provides $5.2 billion in borrower assistance that could include mortgage modifications.

About $1.5 billion also has been paid out to borrowers in another settlement with major banks whose clients lost their home to foreclosure from Jan. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2011. An update on the National Mortgage Settlement is available at

Nationally, foreclosure-related activity was down 25 percent from February 2012, according to RealtyTrac, which tracked default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions. The activity was highest in Florida, followed by Nevada, Illinois, Ohio, Washington and Arizona.