Foreclosures continue to fall in metro-east

News-DemocratOctober 18, 2013 

Local foreclosures rates are the lowest in five years.

The 782 foreclosures filed through September in St. Clair County and the 686 filed through the first nine months of the year in Madison County are well below recent years. At the same point last year, 1.057 properties had been filed for foreclosure in St. Clair County and 1,159 foreclosures filings were recorded in the same span in Madison County.

In Belleville, Realtor Association of Southwestern Illinois President Tricia Tialdo said the drop in foreclosures come as home sales increase in St. Clair County. So far this year, Realtors in St. Clair County have sold 336 more homes than last year at this time -- a 16.73 percent increase.

"Foreclosures obviously have a huge impact on the real estate industry, so we are excited to see the local foreclosure rate falling," Tialdo said. "A drop in foreclosures is a great sign for the housing industry. We are hopeful that this trend will continue in the metro-east."

Al Suguitan, who tracks the housing market in Madison County as the president and chief operating officer of the Greater Gateway Association of Realtors in Glen Carbon, said he believes this improvement is not limited to the housing market.

"I would not only say the housing market, but also the local economy because that is the driver for housing activity," Suguitan said.

According to Irvine, Calif.-based online real estate market tracker RealtyTrac, U.S. foreclosures that were filed during the third quarter were at a seven-year low. The 174,366 U.S. properties that started the foreclosure process during the quarter is down 13 percent from the previous quarter and down 39 percent from a year ago -- the lowest level since the second quarter of 2006.

Illinois was one of 38 states that witnessed a drop in foreclosures during the third quarter over the previous year. The Land of Lincoln recorded 56 percent fewer foreclosures during the quarter, the fourth-largest drop in that time frame.

The average time to foreclose is still a lengthy process. In Illinois, it took an average of 828 days, only New York and New Jersey witnessed longer foreclosure periods. RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said that while the rate of foreclosures is decreasing, the longer foreclosure process weakens any stronger economic rebound.

"The September and third quarter foreclosure numbers show a housing market that is haltingly returning to health," Blomquist said in a released statement. "In a healthy housing market, foreclosures are rare but streamlined while still protecting the rights of the homeowner. While foreclosures are clearly becoming fewer and farther between in most markets, the increasing time it takes to foreclose is holding back a more robust and sustainable recovery."

Suguitan said after the housing market crashed under the weight of subprime lending in 2007 and ultimately led to soaring foreclosure rates in 2008 and ushered in a recession, he anticipated that the market would take longer than it has to improve.

"I'm surprised and not surprised," he said. "I know when we started this five years ago, I took a look at the total number of foreclosures entering the market and my prediction was we would probably see them level off in 2017," he said. "It appears that by 2015 we will be back in balance to a more normal consistent foreclosure rate. By that time, the economy should be starting level itself out."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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