Another is that with the recent stabilization of housing prices, banks are focused more on getting prior foreclosures processed and sold — thus the increase in second, third or fourth notices.
A third influence may be that a recent Georgia court decision that tightened requirements for foreclosures has slowed the initial step of filing a notice.
Steve Palm, chief executive of Cobb-based real estate data firm SmartNumbers, favors the first explanation.
“I think we’ve gotten through the worst,” he said.
He has watched sales volume and prices trend up through winter and summer, though he expects them to flatten in the fall, which is typical for real-estate.
Judson Kidd, CEO at Keller-Williams Atlanta Midtown, thinks banks have finally found their pace at foreclosure, and with home prices in better neighborhoods trending up, the mortgage owners want to get foreclosures off their books and sell them.
“They have a backlog of inventory that they are sitting on and trying to work out [with home owners]. But it is just not working out,” Kidd said.
So the lenders are taking note of the relatively low number of homes for sale — inventory has dropped dramatically in the last year — and are pushing to get the houses to market.
The Georgia Court of Appeals case Reese versus Provident Funding may have also contributed to the slowdown in new notices. The court ruled specific information about mortgage lenders needed to be in foreclosure documents. Attorneys could be slowing new notices to review documents before sending them.
While foreclosure numbers remain far higher than before the financial crisis of 2008, the number for October could provide a strong clue as to whether the worst of the crisis has passed for metro Atlanta. It has a five-week rather than a four-week period in which notices can go out. Usually that means an upturn in the monthly number.
“I will be interested to see if the normal 25 to 30 percent bump occurs,” Equity Depot’s Bramlett said. “If not, we may truly be in a downward trend.”
Foreclosure notices do not necessarily end in repossessions; they are an initial legal step in the process. Lenders may fail to proceed or move quickly. Also, lenders can work with borrowers to find a settlement or write down loans.
Homes that actually are repossesed usually sell at low prices, which drags down nearby home valuations and depresses government real-estate assessments.
That means local governments get less property taxes to pay for police, fire protection, schools and services such as libraries.
Foreclosures in metro Atlanta
County Aug. Sept
Cherokee 281 343
Clayton 557 689
Cobb 715 834
DeKalb 1,067 1,139
Fayette 97 95
Forsyth 182 204
Fulton 1,090 1,165
Gwinnett 1,285 1,517