Frederick County Foreclosures Rise as Home Sales Dip

By | October 14, 2011

Oct. 14 (Source: By Ed Waters Jr., The Frederick News-Post, Md.) - Home sales were down and foreclosures up in September in Frederick County.There were 195 homes sold in the county in September, down from 227 in August and 208 in September 2010, said Bob Sawchuck, an agent with Mackintosh Inc. Realtors.

Of the 195 homes sold last month, Sawchuck said 19 were foreclosures and 50 were short sales, where the lender accepted a sale at less than what the borrower owed on the mortgage.

October is starting slowly, according to Sawchuck’s figures, with 19 homes sold from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7, compared with 29 for the same time frame in September. Of those sold through Oct. 7, two were foreclosures and four were short sales, Sawchuck said.

Of the 195 homes sold in September, 15 were new construction and 180 were existing homes, said Jonathan Hill, president of RealEstate Business Intelligence.

Patrick McLister, a lawyer with Salisbury and McLister, said sales typically are higher in August than September because families want to settle in before children start school.

Sandy Fouche, president of the Frederick County Association of Realtors, said the sales drop compared to a year ago could be due to the current tight lending environment and a lack of confidence in the future job market.

“With the spate of news in September surrounding the inability of elected officials in Congress and the White House to put national interests ahead of personal and party interests, the saga of the European debt crisis and the attendant roller-coaster performance of the equity markets, one does not have to look far for a possible explanation of why Frederick County home sales were down 6 percent in September as compared to August,” said Steve Seawright, president of the Frederick County Builders Association.

“Some lenders are starting to end their voluntary foreclosure moratorium brought on by the robo-signing problem and are starting to move forward with foreclosure on delinquent loans. Lenders must now carefully review each file to verify delinquency and the authorized officer must actually sign the legal documents. So there will not be the elevated number of foreclosures we saw in 2010, they will be more spread out over time,” McLister said.

“You already know my view of foreclosure stats being a view through the rearview mirror of what already has happened and representing a largely meaningless predictor of future events,” Seawright said. “It remains the case that the process for handling foreclosures seems to lurch and bump along in fits and starts, depending on the degree to which particular lenders seeking to foreclose were involved in robo-signing of foreclosure documents.”

Robo-signing refers to how some lenders improperly processed mortgages, often signing off on them without looking at them, and flooding the market with foreclosures.

Seawright said he was encouraged that federal officials are looking at refinancing relief for borrowers who have shown responsibility in meeting payments, even though their homes may be “underwater,” or valued at less than the mortgage loan. Seawright urged those with a mortgage to look at the low rates available for qualified borrowers.

Fouche noted that the inventory of homes on the active sales market is down and that homes priced $250,000 and less for sale are even getting offers from multiple buyers.

Sawchuck said the inventory as of Thursday was 1,163, of which 29 are foreclosures and 232 short sales. “This is the lowest inventory for an October since 2004,” Sawchuck said.

Hill called the inventory in Frederick County, ” a six-months’ supply of inventory, typically indicating a balanced market between buyers and sellers.”

The average price of a home sold in the county in September was $253,302, down less than 1 percent from August, though homes were on the market slightly longer — 111 days versus 98 in August.

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(c)2011 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.)

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A service of YellowBrix, Inc. Publication date: 2011-10-14

Source: By Ed Waters Jr., The Frederick News-Post, Md.

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