VOL. 129 | NO. 75 | Thursday, April 17, 2014
Foreclosures Continue Fall in First Quarter
By Andy Meek
Foreclosure activity is one of those things where even declines are not as always universally cheered.
In Shelby County, 760 residential foreclosures were filed during the first quarter, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com. That’s down 24 percent from 1,000 residential foreclosures during the first quarter of 2013.
That’s a slightly bigger drop than a similar slippage in foreclosures the market experienced during the last three months of 2013, when the number of foreclosures was down 19 percent over the fourth quarter of 2012.
Yet local attorney Webb Brewer says his firm still sees and deals with a “high volume” of people facing foreclosure, despite the fact that the number of such instances has been dropping in Shelby County for several quarters.
Indeed, that number has been falling the further the local market gets from the boom years in real estate and the economic crash of 2008.
“I think there’s still a lot of volume in the pipeline,” Brewer said. “For one reason or another, there have been long delays in submitting documents for some of these, and now lenders are finally moving forward with foreclosure or will soon. Some of the bigger banks, for example, may also have been turning over a lot of the loans they’ve been servicing to new servicers, and now those servicers are moving forward with foreclosure. We’re also still involved in filing lawsuits on behalf of borrowers facing foreclosure when we feel there’s a legal basis.”
Meanwhile, the first quarter also saw a drop in the filing of foreclosure notices that was nearly identical to the decline in foreclosures themselves. The notices, which lenders are required to publish in Tennessee in a newspaper of general circulation before a foreclosure sale, offer a kind of advance warning about the trend, and in the first quarter, the number of notices was down 25.8 percent.
Foreclosure notices totaled 1,337 in the first quarter, down from 1,801 in the first quarter of 2013. That drop in notices doesn’t necessarily mean there will be that many foreclosures in the future, because the existence of the notice gives borrowers time to fix their delinquent loan and save their home before the foreclosure sale.
The decline in local commercial foreclosures was nearly the same over the two first quarters. Twenty-five commercial foreclosures were filed during the first three months of 2014, up slightly from the 23 commercial foreclosures during the same period last year.
Illustrating the scope of the problem locally, Josh Gibson, communications coordinator for the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, said that since 2011, a little less than 1,700 Shelby County households have been helped through the Keep My TN Home program. Also, more funds for that program have been committed to Shelby County than any other county statewide.
“There has been a great need for foreclosure assistance in Shelby County, and the Keep My TN Home program has made great strides in meeting those needs,” Gibson said. “The amount of funds available through Keep My TN Home is waning, but there is still funding available for those who need help. The important thing is that they don’t wait to apply. Keep My TN Home offers up to $40,000 over 36 months to Tennesseans who, by no fault of their own, have fallen behind on their mortgage.”
Tennesseans, he said, who have lost their job, seen their hours at work cut, face a medical hardship, have recently divorced or have suffered the death of a spouse may qualify for help.
Among the areas that comprise the usual hotspots for foreclosure activity from one quarter to the next, the area covered by Southeast Shelby County’s 38125 ZIP code saw 47 residential foreclosures in the first quarter, down from 52 in the first quarter of 2013.
Frayser’s 38127 ZIP code saw 52 foreclosures in the first quarter, down from 77 in the first quarter of 2013. And Raleigh’s 38128 ZIP saw 61 foreclosures, down from 80 in the first quarter of 2013.
Chandler Reports is a division of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc.