Foreclosures fall with improving economy

In this photo made on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, a sign indicates a house for rent in Zelienople, Pa. Home rental prices nationally climbed a seasonally-adjusted 3.7 percent in March from 12 months earlier, real estate data firm Zillow said Wednesday, April 22, 2015. More Americans have shifted to renting in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the housing bust, which caused an avalanche of foreclosures that depressed prices through 2012. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Yearly foreclosures

After rising to record highs in 2009,. foreclosures completed in Hamilton County have dropped over most of the past six years.2015 - 7802014 - 7462013 - 9512012 - 1,1262011 - 1,0732010 - 1,3262009 - 1,4142008 - 1,2332007 - 10002006 - 9052005 - 7932004 - 7322003 - 7892002 - 8132001 - 5972000 - 536Source: Hamilton County Register of Deeds property foreclosures

Despite a nationwide drop in foreclosure filings, the number of homes and businesses lost to repossessions and foreclosures edged higher last year in Hamilton County after five years of trending lower.

The Hamilton County Register of Deeds recorded 780 completed foreclosures during 2015, up 4.5 percent from the previous year's total.

Despite the increase, foreclosures remained 45 percent below the peak reached in 2009. Real estate analysts said the increase in completed foreclosures, which often follow years of financial difficulty, nonpayments and eventual liquidation, stem from problems in previous years and may not reflect any increase in mortgage problems.

Indeed, some of the increase may reflect the fact that more people are taking on debt again and buying homes, apartments and other real estate properties following the plunge in sales and prices during the Great Recession.

"We're definitely in a much better market than we were in the 2008," said Henry Glascock, a Chattanooga property appraiser and principal in John Dixon & Associates. "But it takes a long time for some troubled properties to ultimately be foreclosed upon. We're seeing more activity, better prices and an healthier market in spite of this slight increase (in completed foreclosures)."

RealtyTrac, an online service that tracks not only foreclosures but also default notices, bank repossessions and scheduled auctions, said Thursday that total foreclosure filings nationwide were down 3 percent in 2015 to nearly 1.1 million properties. That total was down 62 percent from the peak of nearly 2.9 million properties with foreclosure filings in 2010.

"In 2015, we saw a return to normal, healthy foreclosure activity in many markets even as banks continued to clean up some of the last vestiges of distress left over from the last housing crisis," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "The increase in bank repossessions that we saw for the year was evidence of this cleanup phase, which largely involves completing foreclosure on highly distressed, low value properties.

RealtyTrac said nationwide that one in every 122 properties had at least one foreclosure filing in 2015, the second consecutive year where the annual foreclosure rate has been below 1 percent of all U.S. housing units.

In Tennessee, one of every 112 properies had at least one foreclosure filing last year. The Volunteer States, which had the highest rate of personal bankruptcy filings in 2015, had the 10th highest rate of foreclosures among the 50 states, RealtyTrac said.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 757-6340