RealtyTrac: State’s foreclosures ‘dropped sharply’

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The number of Mississippi homes being sold in some stage of foreclosure has dropped sharply over the past year.

Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac said 99 foreclosed homes were sold in the state in the April-through-June period at an average price of $145,331. That represented a 20.7 percent discount from homes that were not in foreclosure and 9.5 percent of all second-quarter home sales in Mississippi.

RealtyTrac said the number of foreclosed homes sold in the second quarter in Mississippi rose 4.2 percent from the first quarter of 2011, but fell nearly 42 percent from the second quarter of 2010.

Nationally, the second quarter saw 265,087 foreclosure sales at an average price of $164,217. That represented a 32 percent discount and accounted for 31 percent of all U.S. home sales.

In some regards, the avalanche of housing foreclosure has bypassed Mississippi: the state’s total of 99 second-quarter foreclosure sales was the lowest except for Maine, which had 91.

Watkins Wild, president-elect of the Mississippi Association of Realtors, said the group doesn’t have statewide statistics on how foreclosures are affecting the overall market. But the McComb-based Wild said housing inventories in his five-county region of southwestern Mississippi dropped 9 percent over the first six months from a year ago, mostly in the range of homes selling from $225,000 to $300,000.

At the same time, sales of houses ranging in price from $150,000 to $225,000 jumped 142 percent, he said.

“We have had a huge increase in what you could call the middle America house,” Wild said. “Hopefully, that will continue.”

In Nevada, foreclosure sales accounted for 65 percent of all home sales in the second-quarter. That was followed by Arizona with 57 percent, 51 percent in California, Michigan with 41 percent and Georgia with 38 percent, RealtyTrac said.

On Wednesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said home second-quarter home prices were down 5.9 percent from the second quarter of 2010.

RealtyTrac chief executive James Saccacio said that with prices going down and discounts going up, buyers and investors wanting bargain real estate were in a good position for long-term gains and short-term rental income.

At the same time, he said there was increasing evidence of “short selling” to third parties by many homeowners not yet in formal foreclosure. Those homeowners either do not qualify for loan modification and refinancing and want to sell to avoid foreclosure. Saccacio said those sales enable lenders to eliminate more non-performing loans from their portfolios and reduce the number of distressed homes driving down prices.

In Nevada, foreclosure sales accounted for 65 percent of all home sales in the second-quarter. That was followed by Arizona with 57 percent, 51 percent in California, Michigan with 41 percent and Georgia with 38 percent.

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