The Marietta Daily Journal recently ran the following article on the record number of Cobb County foreclosures that are slated to be auctioned on the court house steps. The MDJ contacted us for our position and we were quoted several times throughout the article.
A Disheartening Record For Cobb
by Marcus E. Howard
MARIETTA - More than 1,600 Cobb properties are headed to the auction block in the county's largest foreclosure sale.
There are 1,609 properties that have been advertised for the upcoming October foreclosure auction. That's nearly double the 893 foreclosure notices for the October 2008 sale. So far this year, 11,083 properties have been advertised for foreclosure auctions, which is a 58.4 percent increase over the 6,993 advertised during the same period in 2008.
The previous foreclosure record was set in the July 2009 sale, which had about 1,354 properties go the auction block.
Legal notices must be published for four consecutive Fridays before a property can be sold at auction. Not all properties advertised necessarily end up at auction.
The auction begins at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month on the steps of the Cobb Superior Courthouse in Marietta. The next auction will be Oct. 6.
Dr. Roger Tutterow, a professor of economics at Mercer University, said Cobb isn't alone, as foreclosures have risen across the country.
"Foreclosures continue to rise as the economy remains soft," he said.
Tutterow said the job loss experienced by many residents has led to the foreclosures. Cobb's unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent in July. According to the Georgia Labor Department, there were 374,489 people in Cobb's labor force in July, of which, 36,235 were unemployed.
"The rising unemployment rates will only fuel more foreclosures ahead," said Tina Fountain, broker and owner of Tina Fountain Realtors, which specializes in high-end homes.
Fountain said the foreclosure numbers are staggering and continue to deflate the prices in the housing market.
That decline in home values has also made it more difficult for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, said Tutterow.
Tutterow said he doesn't see substantial job growth occurring until 2010, which means the housing market has yet to bottom out.
Fountain advises home sellers to act quickly. She said those holding on to yesterday's pricing have a very slim chance of selling in today's market. However, she said the good news is that there are still buyers with jobs to purchase homes at current bargain prices.
"We were booked all Labor Day weekend with relocation buyers moving here from other parts of the United States," said Fountain. "So it is not all doom and gloom, especially if you are a buyer right now."
The nonprofit Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta provides budget and housing counseling. It says many people lose their homes because they seek help too late or, in some cases, don't seek help at all. The following are basic tips that CCCS offers to those facing foreclosure.
Because it says homeowners are often afraid to inform their mortgage company that they're having problems, CCCS said contacting your lender is an important first step because lenders have a financial interest in keeping you in your home and may be willing to alter the terms of your loan or devise a repayment plan.
While it may feel like you're the only one struggling, by seeking help, you increase your chances of avoiding foreclosure, said CCCS.
Lastly, be wary of companies that promise to save you from foreclosure, warns CCCS. It says many of them are scams.
There are many U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved housing counseling agencies that offer help for struggling consumers. A list of those agencies can be found at www.hud.gov/foreclosure and following the link to state and local foreclosure resources.
CCCS provides free counseling for homeowners and helps them explore alternatives to foreclosure. It works with the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, which runs a toll-free hotline to provide counseling for borrowers at 888-995-HOPE (4673). More information is available at www.995hope.org.