Regina Hubbard has clients regularly calling her asking about the availability of what she describes as “deal of a lifetime” foreclosure buys.
The clients who call with those homes in mind tend to want them in otherwise out-of-reach neighborhoods such as Collierville and Germantown.
“But they can’t get those deals anymore,” said Hubbard, 2013 president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors. “Those foreclosures are gone. Foreclosures have been down, decreasing every month for a while now, and I think you can really see there’s a difference now from the way it used to be.”
Indeed, the numbers bear that out. In Shelby County, there were 865 residential foreclosures in the third quarter of this year, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com. That’s down from 959 residential foreclosures during the same period in 2012 – a drop of 10 percent.
That’s roughly in line with the drop evident in the local market in the second quarter of this year, when the number of foreclosures was down 10.6 percent over the second quarter of 2012.
An even bigger drop is evident in the filing of foreclosure notices, which lenders are required to publish in Tennessee in a newspaper of general circulation before a foreclosure sale. Those notices offer an early look at the trend, and in the third quarter, the number of notices fell by 26.1 percent.
Foreclosure notices totaled 1,432 in the third quarter, down from 1,938 in the third quarter of 2012. A drop that precipitous may not line up with the foreclosure pattern of the future, because the notice gives borrowers time to cure the delinquency on their loan in order to save their home before the foreclosure sale. Still, the notices are another indicator to watch – and collectively those indicators point to broad improvement in foreclosure activity in the Memphis area.
Mindy Creech, an agent at RE/MAX on Track, agreed that she’s seeing foreclosure activity drop off slowly.
“They’re still coming in, but at a much slower pace,” she said. “We are also coming into the holiday season, and a lot of the foreclosures are put on a moratorium in December and part of January. With not as many foreclosures on the market, inventory is lower and prices are slowly rising.”
Commercial foreclosures followed the pattern in the residential market. In the third quarter, commercial foreclosures were down compared to the same quarter in 2012 – falling to 22 from 27.
In another indication of the broad nature of change in local foreclosure activity, even some of the inner-city neighborhoods that tend to be hotbeds of foreclosure from one quarter to the next saw drops in the third quarter. The area covered by Raleigh’s 38128 ZIP code, for example, saw 56 residential foreclosures in the third quarter, down from 66 in the third quarter of 2012.
Likewise, Frayser’s 38127 ZIP code also saw 56 foreclosures in the third quarter, down from 64 in the third quarter of 2012. Westwood’s 38109 ZIP led the county in foreclosures last quarter with 59.
Year to date, residential foreclosures numbered 2,829, down 13 percent from 3,266 for the same period in 2012.
The same foreclosure patterns in Memphis are visible throughout the country. The number of homes in the U.S. headed to foreclosure sunk to a seven-year low in the third quarter, according to figures from RealtyTrac cited by the Associated Press.
At the same time, it’s taking longer in some states for homes to finish moving through the foreclosure process. RealtyTrac figures show that it took an average of 1.5 years for a home to move from default to being repossessed.
Chandler Reports is a division of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc.