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Charlotte foreclosure sales jump 45% in 1Q

While sales of homes in foreclosure declined nationally in the first quarter from a year ago, they rose in Charlotte, according to data released Thursday.

Charlotte-area foreclosure sales surged 45 percent in the quarter from the same quarter in 2012, although across the U.S. sales fell 22 percent, Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac reported.

Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said in a statement that, nationally, a decline in foreclosure sales was expected because of the downward trend in new foreclosure activity during the past 2 1/2 years.

But during the first quarter in the Charlotte region, the reverse happened. In the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord area, there were 1,621 foreclosure sales during the quarter, up from 1,119 in the first quarter of 2012.

Jason McGrath, a Charlotte-based lawyer who defends homeowners facing foreclosure, explained the uptick in the region as primarily the product of Charlotte going into the housing crisis after many parts of the country did.

“The property values held out longer” in Charlotte and North Carolina, he said.

“I practice in Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee,” he said. “In Florida, the bubble burst earlier. Charlotte held its value longer. Folks here weren’t in as much trouble until a little bit later compared to Florida, Nevada, California and many of the other states.”

According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure sales rose 34 percent in North Carolina in the first quarter from the same period last year. The state had 4,269 foreclosure sales in the recent quarter, up from 3,180 a year ago.

In the Charlotte region, foreclosure sales constituted 22 percent of all sales in the first quarter, up from 15 percent a year ago, according to RealtyTrac.

McGrath said he expects foreclosures in North Carolina to continue to exceed the national average in the near term. He also expects Charlotte to continue to have higher foreclosure activity than the state as a whole, in part because of what he said is a larger number of investment properties in the Charlotte area.

“North Carolina and Charlotte will continue to be above the national average for at least the rest of the year, probably into 2014,” he said. “But that gap should narrow as we get further into 2014.

“Of course, we have foreclosure-prevention programs, both national and state, that can play some role.”

RealtyTrac’s report is based only on foreclosure sales to third-party buyers and investors, not property transfers from owners in default to foreclosing lenders.

Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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