Through various mitigation efforts, the lending giant Wells Fargo has helped some 5,200 Memphis homeowners avoid foreclosure since 2009.
Those numbers come from Wells itself, which currently services the mortgages of about 45,000 families and individuals in the city. Despite progress the lender has made, though, a Wells spokesman said foreclosures remain a “persistent problem” in Memphis.
At least the problem has ebbed slightly, even if it remains persistent. In Shelby County, there were 967 residential foreclosures in the second quarter this year, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com. That’s down from 1,082 residential foreclosures during the same period in 2012 – a drop of 10.6 percent.
Commercial foreclosures also were down in the April-June period, compared to the same quarter in 2012 – to 19 from 23 over the two quarters.
A mix of forces is contributing to the decline. Some of it is a result of an improving economy, as well as efforts by banks like Wells to keep homeowners from foreclosure, when possible. Some of the decline could be a result of the comparison with highs of previous years.
Looking deeper into the quarter’s results, the number of foreclosure notices fell by 14.4 percent. Notices totaled 1,770 in the second quarter, down from 2,068 in the second quarter of 2012.
Paying attention to the notices, which lenders are required to publish in Tennessee in a newspaper of general circulation, offers a forward perspective – albeit an imperfect one – about what’s to come. Publishing the notices is an early, required step in the foreclosure process. It doesn’t necessarily lead to a certain outcome, however, because the homeowner has time to work out an arrangement with their lender to save their home before a foreclosure auction occurs.
“I sell Freddie Mac foreclosures, and I and other agents that sell Freddie Mac have gotten very few new properties in the last couple of months,” said Mindy Creech, an agent at RE/MAX on Track. “Foreclosures are sometimes cyclical. There is an ebb and flow. For instance, when I was getting a lot of foreclosures in Shelby County, I didn’t get a single foreclosure in Desoto County for over a year. Now I am getting quite a few properties in Mississippi, but none in Shelby County. I also notice when I am looking at the (Multiple Listing Service) for market reports or for buyers, I see less and less foreclosures to use as comparables.”
Raleigh and Frayser are two of the inner-city neighborhoods in Memphis that tend to see the most foreclosures from one quarter to the next. But only one of them saw an increase in the second quarter.
Raleigh’s 38128 ZIP saw 74 residential foreclosures in the second quarter, up from 68 in the second quarter of 2012. However, Frayser’s 38127 ZIP saw 61 foreclosures in the second quarter, down from 74 in the second quarter of 2012.
Jay Lawrence, southeast communications manager for Wells Fargo, said most of Wells’ customers pay mortgages on time. However, Wells still has more than 1,000 customers in the late states of delinquency.
To that end, Wells scheduled its 95th large-scale foreclosure prevention workshop in Memphis earlier this month. Lawrence said Wells has found that it’s able to save the homes of two out of three customers who attend the workshop.
Year to date, residential foreclosures numbered 1,971, down 14.6 percent from 2,307 for the same period in 2012.
“We have continued to see a decrease in the foreclosure activity in our market this year,” said Regina Hubbard, 2013 Memphis Area Association of Realtors president. “Year-to-date foreclosure sales have decreased … from 2012. The positive effect is an increase in sales prices. Hopefully this trend will continue throughout 2013.”
Chandler Reports is a division of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc.