Atlanta foreclosures down, still high

Foreclosures continue to decline in metro Atlanta, yet the region remains one of the nation’s leaders in the category. During the 12 months ending in May, there were 14,340 completed foreclosures in metro Atlanta, the second-highest number among big U.S. metro areas behind only Tampa-St. Petersburg at 17,044, according to CoreLogic, a California-based real estate research firm. Metro Atlanta’s total was down from more than 20,000 completed foreclosures in the prior 12-month period, according to CoreLogic.

The region’s progress tracks the trend in the national housing market, where completed foreclosures fell 19.2 percent from a year earlier. Among states, Georgia had the sixth -highest number at 26,523 completed foreclosures. The top five were Florida (104,000), Michigan (46,000), Texas (33,000), California (28,000) and Ohio (27,000).

Foreclosures became an epidemic after the burst of the housing bubble in 2006-2007, a collapse followed by plunging prices and a financial crisis that led to a devastating recession – which in further undermined housing.

A flood of foreclosures followed, virtually destroying the market for housing in many areas. Home values in many parts of metro Atlanta have yet to return to pre-recession levels. But as foreclosures recede, the market can build momentum. “With three million jobs created during the past year, the improving labor market has helped more borrowers stay current on their mortgage loan,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Because fewer loans are becoming seriously delinquent, the foreclosure inventory has come down to its lowest level in more than seven years, with only 1.3 percent of loans in foreclosure proceedings.” In metro Atlanta, 3.4 percent of mortgages are in serious delinquency, vs. 4.4 percent a year ago, according to CoreLogic.

Down but not OUT!

What Happened to HAWK!

When the Federal Housing Administration announced its “Blueprint for Access” in May, it said the program was designed to open up the credit box for “underserved borrowers.” Now, one of the most ballyhooed features of the FHA’s plan to help ease credit availability is not going to happen, thanks to budgetary wrangling in Congress. One of the main features of the FHA’s Blueprint for Access was a pilot program called Homeowners Armed with Knowledge, or HAWK for short. Under the four-year HAWK pilot program, homebuyers who committed to housing counseling would qualify for tangible savings on their FHA-insured loans. But funding for the HAWK program was not included in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, which was signed by President Obama this week, therefore the program will not be moving forward for at least a year. Under the program, the average buyer would have saved approximately $325 a year, or almost $9,800 over the life of their loan. “Over the last few years FHA has proposed a number of steps to better serve borrowers and lenders in an ongoing effort to expand credit access and ultimately continue moving the economy in a positive direction,” said Biniam Gebre, acting FHA commissioner and assistant secretary for housing. “We are disappointed programs that could have served many families will not be permitted under the bill.”

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