March foreclosures near record

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There are 254 foreclosure listings in today’s Times-Herald legal advertisements, up from 216 in 2009, or 17.5 percent.

By JEFF BISHOP jbishop@newnan.com The pace of foreclosures in Coweta County shows no signs of slowing down as the aftershocks of the Great Recession continue to rumble through the local economic landscape. The second-highest number of foreclosure advertisements on record appear in today's legal advertisements in The Times-Herald. After dropping to 153 just two months ago, the number of foreclosure ads for March is back up to 254 -- just 11 ads shy of the record set last September.
That's a 17.5 percent increase from the 216 ads placed last month, and also a 17.5 percent increase from the 216 ads placed in March 2009. There were 128 foreclosure advertisements placed in The Times-Herald in March 2008. January 2010 foreclosure numbers tracked by First American Core Logic show a particularly high foreclosure rate (exceeding 2.8 percent) in the Palmetto, Grantville, and Haralson areas in Coweta County. Foreclosure rates in Atlanta metro have increased for the month of January over the same period last year, according to First American CoreLogic. The rate of foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans in metro Atlanta is 2.81 percent for January, an increase of 1.18 percentage points compared to January 2008 when the rate was 1.63 percent. Foreclosure activity in the metro Atlanta is lower than the national foreclosure rate, which was 3.19 percent for January 2009, representing a 0.38 percentage point difference. The mortgage delinquency rate has also increased in the metro Atlanta area. According to First American CoreLogic data for January 2009, 10.85 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent compared to 6.57 percent for the same period last year, representing an increase of 4.28 percentage points. According to RealtyTrac, the number of foreclosures in Coweta County escalated from 593 in December 2007 to 1,046 in December 2009 -- an increase of 76.39 percent. Coweta County has about one foreclosure for every 117 residents. RealtyTrac currently shows 167 bank-owned properties listed in the 30265 area code and 276 bank-owned properties in the 30263 area code. There are also 77 bank-owned properties in the 30276 area code and 167 in the 30277 area code. In Grantville, the 30220 zip code shows 71 bank-owned properties, and 71 in the 30259 area code (Moreland). The Huffington Post reported this week that only about a third of the homeowners who have successfully completed the trial period of the Obama administration's mortgage modification program have been offered permanent relief. The conversion rate -- about 33 percent -- is woefully short of what the Treasury Department had forecast, the Huffington Post reported. Treasury thought the rate would be "ranging up to 75 percent," Herbert M. Allison Jr., assistant secretary for financial stability, told the Congressional Oversight Panel in October. The other two-thirds of homeowners who have gone through the trial program and made the necessary payments remain in limbo. Some of those homeowners -- more than 350,000 of them -- will ultimately lose out on the kind of relief the administration has repeatedly promised: averting foreclosure through lower monthly payments. A recent report shows Georgia homeowners are projected to lose $13 billion in property values in the next two years. Meanwhile, local property tax assessments often are not reflecting the depressed values. A report released by Georgia Watch, a consumer-advocacy organization that is lobbying for stricter controls on mortgage lending, called the drop in property values a "spillover" from the record number of foreclosures. According to the report, just in 2009, 1.8 million Georgia homes dropped in value by an average of $1,920. By 2012, another 1 million homes will lose value, and the average for all of them statewide will reach $4,657. Many homeowners on the brink of giving up and going into foreclosure are still unaware that the foreclosure process won't necessarily relieve them of the crushing debt burden of an overvalued home. Former homeowners may still be on the hook if there's a difference between what they owed on their mortgage and what the bank could sell it for at auction. And these "deficiency judgments" can crop up years after borrowers lose their homes -- even when people negotiate with a bank to approve selling a home for less than it is worth. Whether banks can and will pursue deficiency judgments depends on many factors, including what state the borrower lives in and whether there's a second mortgage or other liens. In Georgia, the lender must seek a deficiency judgment within 30 days after the foreclosure sale. The laws that govern Georgia foreclosures are found in of Georgia Code (O.C.G.A) O.C.G.A §44-14-162 et. seq. Actions to assert wrongful foreclosure for improper notice are referenced under O.C.G.A §9-11-65, and various notice requirements for Sheriff's foreclosure sales are referenced under O.C.G.A. §9-13-140(a). Once a lender has a judgment against a former homeowner, the lender is empowered to ask for financial records or garnish wages, and a judge could even put a debtor in jail, under certain circumstances. Extinguishing the debt is often a matter of negotiating with the bank. But even when lenders are willing, borrowers often are unaware that they must ask for a legal release from the remaining debt. - Here are the foreclosure advertisement numbers for Coweta County for the past year: April 2009 -- 182 (up from 145 in 2008, or 25 percent). May 2009 -- 176 (up from 128 in 2008, or 37.5 percent). June 2009 -- 253 (up from 125 in 2008, or 102.4 percent). July 2009 -- 169 (up from 136 in 2008, or 24 percent). Aug. 2009 -- 196 (up from 137 in 2008, or 43 percent). Sept. 2009 -- 265 (up from 177 in 2008, or 49.7 percent). Oct. 2009 -- 207 (up from 142 in 2008, or 45.77 percent). Nov. 2009 -- 185 (up from 166 in 2008, or 11 percent). Dec. 2009 -- 230 (up from 126 in 2008, or 82.5 percent). Jan. 2010 -- 170 (down from 176 in 2009, or -3.4 percent). Feb. 2010 -- 216 (up from 153 in 2009, or 41 percent). March 2010 -- 254 (up from 216 in 2009, or 17.5 percent). -- Source: Times-Herald legal advertisement department


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