Foreclosure Activity Drops 51 Percent
A report out this morning shows Austin is defying the national trend when it comes to home foreclosures.
The number of foreclosed properties on the auction block declined over the past year, according to a new report by RealtyTrac. Daren Blomquist is the foreclosure-data company’s vice president.
“We saw about 1,500 properties with foreclosure filings in the Austin metro area for the first quarter of 2012,” Blomquist says. “That was down 51 percent from a year ago, [in] the first quarter of 2011.”
A 51 percent drop is a huge decline, and it’s based on a measurement of all foreclosure activity – everything from the first notice of default on a mortgage to foreclosure auctions. Eldon Rude with the real estate-tracking firm MetroStudy says he isn’t surprised.
“We’ve been looking at the foreclosure numbers coming down for the last year or so. As time goes on, more of those foreclosures are going to work through the system,” Rude says. “But most significantly, the economy is improving. We’re having good job growth in 2011 and 2012 has started out strong as well, and the housing market is picking up.”
According to MetroStudy, the median price of a home in Austin is higher and – in the first three months of the year – Austin-area builders started construction on 20 percent more homes that they did in the same time frame of 2011.
But the area might not be out of the weeds yet. George Roddy runs Foreclosure Listing Service, Inc., which tracks foreclosures in two dozen Texas counties including Travis. He says he thinks there’s a reason banks have been slow to foreclose in the past six months: a $25 billion agreement with the federal government over foreclosure abuses.
“Now that they’ve gotten that settled, we think that we’re going to see – at least for the rest of the year – fairly high numbers,” Roddy says. “There’s a lot of properties that did not get processed for foreclosure during this period of time where they were in a general slowdown.”
While the RealtyTrac report shows Austin’s foreclosure activity being cut in half in the first quarter, it also says more than half of U.S. cities saw foreclosure rates go up in the same three months.