ESTATE


Rate of Bank Repossesions Falls in Q1
2009/04/16, 3:30 pm
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The rate of bank repossessions of homes in South Carolina declined by nearly half in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, data released this morning show. South Carolina saw 157 more bank repossessions of homes in Q1 2009 than in Q4 2008, an increase of 6.9%. But that was a drop from the 12.5% increase seen between Q3 and Q4 2008. Possibly more striking in the latest numbers is the increasing number of homes that are being fed into the foreclosure pipeline. Homes that are in distress go through several steps before being repossessed by a bank or mortgage holder. In the last quarter of last year, 2,004 homes were entering the early stages of the process in South Carolina. In the first quarter of 2009, that number jumped 59.5% to 3,196 homes, according to RealtyTrac, a national real estate data tracking firm. The number of homes in jeopardy of foreclosure increased by 27.1% statewide when compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, according to RealtyTrac data. The number of homes across South Carolina in some state of foreclosure increased to 7,016 in the first quarter of this year, from 5,520 in the fourth quarter of 2008. Some lenders put a temporary stop on foreclosures during the first part of this year. That could account for both the drop in the rate of bank-repossessed homes – known in the industry as REOs – and the increased number of homes entering the earliest stages of distress, as banks might have held off on any filings. Today’s report follows positive news from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors that showed a 36.2% increase in the number of home closings from February to March. The association’s president said a new batch of first-time homebuyers in the Lowcountry indicated that consumer confidence is on the rise for the Charleston residential real estate market. “People are realizing the incredible selection and value in this market and making the smart decision to invest in real property,” association President Gettys Glaze said Monday. The uptick was a positive indicator for the home market, but sales were still down 24.4% when compared with February to March a year ago. The Upstate saw a similar increase between Feburary and March. “Let’s hope April is up from March,” said Nick Sabatine, CEO of the Greater Greenville Association of Realtors. “It gives me a little hope that we’ve hit the bottom. I’m looking for it (sales data) to pick up each month.” Other major home markets across South Carolina saw similar increases in actual repossessions by banks, including a 25.4% increase in Lexington County. Spartanburg County saw a decrease, at 39.6%. In the Lowcountry, Berkeley County dropped by 1% and Charleston REOs increased by more than 150%, going from 119 to 304. Nationally, RealtyTrac found that foreclosure activity increased 9% in the first quarter and was up 12% compared with the first quarter of 2008. RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio said the number of households that received a foreclosure filing was more than 12% higher than the next-highest month on record. “Since much of this activity was in new foreclosure actions, it suggests that many lenders and servicers were holding off on executing foreclosures due to industry moratoria and legislative delays,” Saccacio said. “It’s also likely that the drop in REO activity can be attributed to these processing delays, rather than to any of the foreclosure prevention programs currently in place.” Saccacio said he expects to see REOs increase again now that the moratoriums on foreclosures have been lifted. Foreclosure numbers for last two quarters in South Carolina by county Region/County Q4 2008 REOs* Q1 2009 REOs* Percent change Upstate Anderson 94 110 17.0% Greenville 313 334 6.7% Spartanburg 202 122 -39.6% Midlands Lexington 118 148 25.4% Newberry 30 21 -30% Richland 265 303 14.3% Orangeburg 50 52 4% Sumter 68 37 -45.5% Lowcountry Berkeley 91 90 -1.0% Charleston 119 304 155.4% Dorchester 110 124 12.7% Grand Strand Horry 90 99 10% Georgetown 9 22 144.4% Pee Dee Darlington 20 26 30% Florence 31 40 29.0% Statewide Property w/filings 5,520 7,016 27.1% REOs* 2,262 2,419 6.9% *REOs are homes that have actually been repossessed by a lender. Source: RealtyTrac

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