After rising to record highs in 2009,. foreclosures completed in Hamilton County have dropped over most of the past six years.
2015 - 780
2014 - 746
2013 - 951
2012 - 1,126
2011 - 1,073
2010 - 1,326
2009 - 1,414
2008 - 1,233
2007 - 1000
2006 - 905
2005 - 793
2004 - 732
2003 - 789
2002 - 813
2001 - 597
2000 - 536
Source: 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.
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