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Foreclosure filings during 2013 up in NWA, down in Fort Smith area

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac reports 1.361 million foreclosure filings on U.S. properties in 2013, down 26% from a year ago and some 53% lower than the $2.9 million peak hit in 2010. Filings were up almost 70% in Arkansas during the year.

The national pace hit its slowest stride since 2007, according to Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. The report also shows that 1.04% of U.S. housing units (one in every 96) had at least one foreclosure filing during the year, down from 1.39% of housing units in 2012.

“The shadow cast by the foreclosure crisis is shrinking as fewer distressed properties enter foreclosure and properties already in foreclosure are poised to exit in greater numbers in 2014 given the greater numbers of scheduled foreclosure auctions in 2013 in judicial states — which account for the bulk of U.S. foreclosure inventory,” Blomquist said.

One thing economists agree on is the local aspect of real estate and the differences that can exist between adjacent neighborhoods, much less adjacent counties.

Foreclosures accounted for less than 0.6% of households across the Natural State last year despite regular monthly ups and down in terms of new filings. There were 7,786 filings statewide in 2013, up 69.3% from the prior year.

NWA, FORT SMITH AREA ACTIVITY
In Northwest Arkansas the foreclosure market remains mixed with larger Benton County experiencing more activity in both sales and foreclosures than neighboring Washington County.

In December Benton County reported 53 new foreclosure filings, up 39% from a year ago. During that same period Washington County reported 11 foreclosure filings, down 63% from a year earlier.

South of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel on Interstate 540, Crawford and Sebastian counties each reported higher numbers in December. There were 20 new filings in larger Sebastian County, up 66% from a year ago, while Crawford County reported 13 new foreclosure filings, up 85.7% from December 2012.

Despite rising activity in three of the four regional counties, the number of foreclosure listings continues to decline. Jim Long, agent with Crye-Leike Real Estate said there are 322 listings in the two markets as of Jan. 15. The foreclosure listings totaled 360 in December, 368 in November and 354 in October.

Long said new foreclosure listings are slow to come back into the market. Johnnie Snell of Coldwell Banker works with foreclosures going back to FreddieMac as well as Fannie Mae and HUD. Snell said the properties that come on the market in decent shape sell quickly, which has prevented a growing surplus of foreclosed homes.

FULL YEAR
For the full year, Benton County reported 1,173 foreclosure filings, up 45.9% from 2012. That equaled one in every 78 households for the full year or 1.28% of total housing units.


In Washington County there were 524 foreclosure filings, rising 7.16% from last year. The foreclosure rate was one in every 165 households for the full year impacting roughly 0.6% of households in the county.

Sebastian County had 263 filings last year, which was one in every 206 households. A year ago there were 157 filings, falling 67.5% in the year-over-year period. RealtyTrac shows there are 54,279 households in the county and less than 0.5% are in default or jeopardy of foreclosure.

Crawford County reported 170 filings last year, up 75% from those recorded in 2012. Roughly one in every 152 households or 0.66% housing units had at least one foreclosure filing last year.

Blomquist said there continues to be ample investor demand willing to pay cash for homes at auction, which is helping to raise the values. Nationwide, foreclosure values rose 10% in 2013.

He said the cash availability could create an increase in foreclosure filings through the first half of 2014 in states like Arkansas where activity was held up by litigation.

FORECLOSURE FILING NUMBERS
Benton County
2013: 1,173
2012: 804

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Washington County
2013: 524
2012: 489

Sebastian County
2013: 263
2012: 157

Crawford County
2013: 170
2012: 97

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