The March 2012 foreclosure auction offered a three-year-low for the number of homes on the auction block. But next month’s auction will offer a third fewer homes than that one.
A total of 605 foreclosures were reported for the upcoming March auction. That number is down 33.4 percent from the 908 homes that were set for foreclosure in March 2012, which at the time was the lowest number for an auction since 2009.
“We had a ton last year compared to what we have now,” said Wendy Bunch with RE/MAX Pure in Marietta, the president of the Cobb Association of Realtors.
The March total isn’t quite as low as the 592 reported in December 2012, which was the lowest since before the recession began in 2008.
Foreclosure notices are required to run in the Marietta Daily Journal for four consecutive Fridays leading up to the auction on the first Tuesday of the month. The March auction is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 5 on the steps of the Cobb Justice Center, 32 Waddell St. in Marietta.
The March numbers are the second to be reported in 2013. So far this year, Cobb has seen 1,365 foreclosures, down 32.9 percent from the 2,035 homes set for foreclosure in the first two months of 2012 and 45.8 percent from the 2,518 reported in the first two months of 2011.
Part of the reason for the decline in foreclosures is due to banks being more willing to work with delinquent homeowners to help them get their payments back on track, rather than foreclosing, Bunch said. With maintenance, homeowners’ association fees, taxes and other costs related to owning foreclosed homes, she said some banks want to avoid the foreclosure process when possible.
“I think they’re at a point now where they see what they can do to help people stay in their homes,” Bunch said.
Jay Lawrence, spokesman for Wells Fargo Bank in Atlanta, said the bank has events that help homeowners avoid foreclosures and works with nonprofit agencies that help people stay in their homes.
“Everybody loses when foreclosures happen,” he said. “We lose, the community loses and the homeowner loses. It’s in everyone’s best interest to work to avoid them.”
Lawrence said Wells Fargo’s foreclosures are dropping in the Atlanta area.
“We certainly attribute that to people responding to the many ways we work with them,” he said.
While foreclosures are down, so is overall inventory for homes, Bunch said. That, along with a lack of foreclosures and short sales dragging prices down, is starting to drive up prices of existing homes in Cobb. This comes after nearly five years of falling prices.
Although she said people cannot expect to sell their homes for what they cost when the market peaked in 2006, Bunch said low interest rates make it a good time to enter the market.