Janesville61.8°

Foreclosures cooled in 2010

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
January 10, 2011
— This will come as no relief to a family that is losing its home, but the tsunami of foreclosures that has been slamming Rock County appears to be subsiding.

Foreclosure filings reached a peak in 2009 and dropped by more than 8 percent in 2010, the Rock County Clerk of Courts Office reported.


Whether the downtrend will continue is impossible to say.


One reason for optimism is that the local trend mirrors the national one, said Blair Winn, president of Rock-Green Realtors Association.


"It's a positive sign. It's something that's not going to result in a positive until later on," Winn said.


Winn noted that the numbers count court filings, not completed foreclosures.


"It's probably not going to affect the inventory of foreclosures in the near term, but it's a positive sign because it would point to fewer foreclosures down the road," Winn said.


Winn said the availability of foreclosed-on houses depresses other real-estate sales, even though foreclosed houses are sold as-is and generally are not in the ready-for-sale condition found in normal sales.


The backlog of foreclosures drags down prices for all sales, Winn said.


The banks or governments that are trying to sell foreclosed houses are generally more motivated to sell than other sellers, and that drives prices down, Winn said.


"With fewer filings, we can anticipate that down the road awhile—and it will be a while—that would have a positive effect on sales prices," Winn said.


The most recent report from RealtyTrac, an online service that tracks foreclosures nationwide, showed a 14 percent decrease in foreclosure filings nationwide from November 2009 to November 2010. That was the highest year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity since RealtyTrac began publishing its U.S. Foreclosure Report in 2005.


Jobs and other income are the bottom line when it comes to making house payments, of course.


Forward Janesville President John Beckord said he has heard of local homeowners who avoided foreclosure because they continue to receive unemployment benefits under the extensions authorized by Congress.


"I don't think there's any question that that had some effect, but I can't prove that," Beckord said.


An improvement in the local employment situation probably also is helping, Beckord said.


Beckord expressed hope that the situation will improve even more as hiring begins for the new St. Mary's Janesville Hospital/Dean Clinic complex in the coming year.


Beckord said he also knows of potential expansions of local businesses that would mean more jobs.


Beckord said a huge company relocating here is probably not in the cards, so the local recovery is likely to forge ahead, in large part, with small steps by local companies.



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