published Friday, July 18th, 2014

Foreclosures fall to 9-year low in Chattanooga

Foreclosure activity in Chattanooga has dropped to its lowest level since before the housing bubble started to burst nearly eight years ago.

The number of homes lost to foreclosure in the first half of 2014 was down nearly 19 percent from a year ago as the housing market continued to mend from the Great Recession.

"We're back to a more normal market which should be favorable for many homebuyers coming into the market or those wanting to move into a bigger home," said Vicki Trapp, a Crye-Leike Realtor and president of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors. "With fewer foreclosures, we're not seeing as many distressed sales to investors and we're seeing more sales to first-time homebuyers."

According to filings with the Hamilton County Register of Deeds, there were 412 property foreclosures in the county during the first half of 2014 -- the fourth consecutive year of such declines.

Similarly, the number of Tennessee and Georgia homes facing bank auctions, default notices or scheduled auctions was down by more than 40 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2013, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac, a housing industry research firm based in Irvine, Calif.

June's total foreclosure activity was the lowest since July 2006, the company said.

"Nationwide foreclosure activity in June reached an important milestone," Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac vice president, said in a statement. "Over the next six to nine months, foreclosure numbers should start to flatline at consistently historically normal levels."

Through the first half of 2014, there were 613,874 properties nationwide with foreclosure filings, down 23 percent from the first six months of 2013.

Florida, Maryland, Illinois, New Jersey and Nevada had the highest foreclosure rates so far in 2014.

Despite some troubled regions of the country, Blomquist said, "foreclosures are no longer a widespread contagion threatening to derail the housing market's return to full health."

In Tennessee, one of every 496 properties got a bank default or foreclosure notices in the first half of the year -- a rate that was less than half of the U.S. average.

But in Georgia, one of every 204 properties were involved in a foreclosure action, or 5 percent more than the U.S. average.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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