One in every 81 homes in the county is in some stage of foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac, a national foreclosure tracking agency. Carroll County foreclosures are down 20.7 percent from third quarter of last year. Carroll County had 550 foreclosure starts during the third quarter, from July through September.
RealtyTrac’s numbers indicate that foreclosures in Georgia have fallen 23 percent in the past quarter, although Georgia still ranks fifth in foreclosures in the nation. Nationwide, foreclosures dropped in the third quarter by 4.8 percent, with one in every 248 homes in foreclosure.
“These figures seem very positive,” said Dr. Joey Smith, associate professor of economics at University of West Georgia. “I think we’ve already seen the largest wave of foreclosures and they’re starting to subside a little bit.”
Smith said there’s a lot of competition now for the foreclosure homes on the market and many are being sold at higher than the asking price.
“Investors are buying foreclosures and turning them into rental properties,” he said. “We also have a couple of new apartment complexes building built here. A lot of people can no longer buy houses, but have to rent. We also have a robust growth of student population in need of housing.”
Chris Collier, executive director of the Westside Home Builders Association, which represents builders in Carroll, Haralson and Douglas counties, said the numbers are encouraging, but it could be seasonal or pre-election.
“It’s difficult to say with any confidence,” Collier said. “As far as new home construction, we still have to reduce the existing inventory.”
Collier said bankers are going to be slow coming back into the lending market for construction businesses.
“They got burned pretty bad and they’re hesitant to come back in,” he said. “It will probably be in the latter part of next year, or early 2014, before we see an increase in lending.”
“We’ve been waiting for the other foreclosure shoe to drop since late 2010, when questionable foreclosure practices slowed activity to a crawl in many areas, but that other shoe is instead being carefully lowered to the floor and therefore making little noise in the housing market — at least at a national level,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Make no mistake, however, the other shoe is dropping quite loudly in certain states, primarily those where foreclosure activity was held back the most last year.
“Meanwhile, several states where the foreclosure flow was not so dammed up last year could see a roller-coaster pattern in foreclosure activity going forward because of recent legislation or court rulings that substantively change the rules to properly foreclose,” Blomquist added. “A backlog of delayed foreclosures will likely build up in those states as lenders adjust to the new rules, with many of those delayed foreclosures eventually hitting down the road.”
Third quarter foreclosure figures for other West Georgia counties, include:
• Haralson County, ranked 17th statewide, with one in every 110 homes in foreclosure; foreclosures up 8.7 percent from last quarter, but down 0.9 percent from third quarter last year.
• Heard County, ranked 114th statewide, with one in every 572 homes in foreclosure; foreclosures down 35.7 percent from last quarter, and down 57.1 percent from third quarter last year.
• Paulding County, ranked 15th statewide, with one in every 107 homes in foreclosure; foreclosures down 24.9 percent from last quarter, and down 18.6 percent from third quarter last year.
• Coweta County, ranked 24th statewide, with one in every 132 homes in foreclosure; foreclosures down 22.2 percent from last quarter, and down 1.56 from third quarter last year.
• Douglas County, ranked 7th statewide, with one in every 81 homes in foreclosure; foreclosures down 32.6 percent from last quarter, and down 18.6 percent from third quarter last year.
The number one Georgia county in foreclosures was Newton, where one in every 67 homes is in foreclosure. Number two is Barrow County, with one in 70. Walton came in third, one in 72; Butts, fourth, one in 73; and Henry, fifth, one in 74.
Foreclosure starts declined in September on an annual basis in 31 states, with the biggest drops in California, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and Texas, the new RealtyTrac report showed. They are among the so-called non-judicial states, in which court approval isn’t required for foreclosures.
Foreclosure activity has been declining in most non-judicial states because they didn’t build a huge backlog of pending cases during an industry-wide slowdown in foreclosures last year. The slowdown stemmed from widespread claims that lenders had been processing foreclosures without verifying documents.
Of the 19 states in which foreclosure starts rose in September, those with the largest annual increases were New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington state and Florida. Except for Washington, they are judicial states, where the courts must sign off on foreclosures.
The slower process in states where courts play a role in foreclosures contributed to a logjam of pending foreclosure cases that now has mortgage lenders catching up.
In Washington, a non-judicial state, lenders were catching up with foreclosure cases that had been delayed by a state law that took effect in July 2011 and allowed borrowers facing foreclosure to request mediation, RealtyTrac noted.
The pace of homes entering the foreclosure process is expected to slow gradually, barring another severe economic shock that would send the recovering housing market into a tailspin, experts say. But the decline in foreclosures is likely to continue playing out unevenly, in part because of the differing approaches to handling foreclosures from state to state.
Florida had the highest foreclosure rate in the country last month, a rate of one in every 117 households in some stage of foreclosure.
Arizona, California, Illinois and Georgia rounded out the top five states with the highest foreclosure rates in September.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.