In another sign that the economy is improving, foreclosure rates locally have fallen to the lowest level in years and are approaching pre-recession levels.
A total of 729 foreclosures were filed in St. Clair and Madison counties in the first half of 2014. While that still seems like a significant number, it compares to 1,513 just two years earlier, in the first half of 2012.
In June, there were 64 homes foreclosed upon in St. Clair County, and 70 in Madison County. Prior to 2013, most months saw triple-digit foreclosures most months in the metro-east.
In Glen Carbon, Greater Gateway Association of Realtors Chief Operating Officer Al Suguitan said the metro-east market is recovering at a sustainable pace. He said this trend in the market is evidence that the housing market and the economy and unemployment rate are continuing to improve.
"A stronger housing recovery is symptomatic of a stronger overall economy," Suguitan said. "More people are able to work or are working and decide it's time to move into something bigger or smaller or newer."
In Belleville, Realtor Association of Southwestern Illinois President Tricia Tialdo said homes for sale in St. Clair County are selling quicker than before. She said the number of days on the market decreased by 4 percent between 2012 and 2013. New listings increased by 11 percent in that span and the number of homes sold jumped by 14 percent in that time.
On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported preliminary data reveals that the state's jobless rate fell to 7.1 percent last month as the 6,000 were added to Illinois employers' payrolls. The unemployment rate was the lowest monthly total recorded in the state since October 2008.
Across the state and the country, the number of default notices, property auctions and bank repossessions has been declining. According to Irvine, Calif.-based online real estate market tracker RealtyTrac, the number of foreclosures filings reported across the nation between January and June is 19 percent less than the amount recorded between July and December of 2013, and down 23 percent from the first six months of last year.
The 107,194 properties filing for foreclosure last month is 2 percent less than recorded in May and a 16 percent decrease from the total recorded in June 2013.
RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said the national foreclosure rate has dropped to levels not seen since before the housing price bubble burst in August 2006.
"Illinois is lagging to get back to pre-crisis levels, but it is on its way as numbers decrease overall," he said. "Foreclosure activity has decreased in 19 consecutive months in June. They are not back to pre-crisis levels in Illinois, but they're heading in that direction."
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.