Foreclosure rates down in Albany

ALBANY, Ga. — Fewer homes in Albany are falling to foreclosure, while some owners are taking longer to make their payments, according to CoreLogic, a nationwide reporting agency.

In March, Albany’s foreclosure rate, that is the percentage of loans in some stage of the foreclosure process, was 1.45 percent of loans, down slightly from 1.47 percent the previous March. The figure may represent a downward trend from the foreclosure high of 1.73 percent experienced in September of 2011.

However, the fall coincides with a mild upward movement in the 90-plus-day delinquency rate. The March figure was 5.88 percent, the highest since February. The good news for Albany, as noted by CoreLogic, is that the rates are significantly lower than either the current national foreclosure rate of 3.41 percent of loans outstanding, with a delinquency rate of 7.18 percent, or that of Georgia as a whole, with a foreclosure rate of 2.35 percent and delinquency of 7.87 percent.

Chuck Willcox, of Willcox Realty LLC, said that compared to Atlanta, Southwest Georgia was largely untouched by the real estate bubble of a few years ago. While Albany has suffered, and many have lost their homes, the area was fortunate not to have fallen victim to scam artists and corrupt lenders at the same level of Atlanta-area homeowners. According to Willcox, the departure of companies such as Merck & Company, Cooper Tire and Delco Remy has been a bigger problem locally.

“If you don’t have a job, you can’t make a mortgage payment,” Willcox said. “There were a lot of people who lost their jobs and watched their homes drop in value to way below what they had paid into them. They just let the banks have them.”

Willcox said that because of the loss in industry, Albany is simply hovering, while towns such as Tifton and Valdosta are moving forward.

Wayne Whitfield, director of mortgage banking at AB&T, said his institution was very fortunate not to have seen an appreciable increase in mortgage foreclosures from the bursting of the housing bubble in 2007. He attributes the good news to responsible borrowing and lending and the ability of many of his clients to take advantage of available lower lending rates. Whitfield said that most AB&T mortgages are sold on a secondary market.

CoreLogic provides financial and property information, analytics and services to business and government.