Foreclosure activity rose faster in Charlotte last month than in the nation as a whole, according to a report released Thursday.
The report from the RealtyTrac research firm shows foreclosure filings in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord region rose from 938 to 1,406 from April to May. That’s an increase of 49.9 percent, compared with a 2.3 percent jump nationwide.
In the Charlotte area, the surge in activity came from an increase in default notices, which start the foreclosure process, and bank repossessions.
Lenders repossessed 541 Charlotte-area homes in May, compared with 276 in April, a 96 percent jump. That compares to an 11 percent jump nationwide. Default notices rose 22 percent, from 123 to 150, compared to a 10.6 percent drop nationwide.
In Mecklenburg County, one in every 427 homes was in some stage of foreclosure in May, according to RealtyTrac. Across the U.S., it was one in every 885.
Locally, the numbers point to lenders stepping on the gas when it comes to initiating foreclosures at a time when the Charlotte-area real estate market is heating up. Prices are rising, in part because the inventory of homes for sale is shrinking.
Banks are more willing to move to the final stage of foreclosure because there is sufficient demand and prices are improving, Eric Workman of Tinley Park, Ill.-based Mack Cos., told Bloomberg News. U.S. home prices advanced almost 11 percent in the year through March, the biggest 12-month gain since April 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of values in 20 cities. Charlotte home prices jumped 7 percent in March, according to the index.
“For a very long period of time, the market in general and specifically banks were unsure of what these assets were valued at,” said Workman, whose company aggregates single-family rental homes and resells them to individuals and institutional investors. “With increasing stability of the economy and housing prices throughout the U.S., these banks and sellers are getting much more comfortable with the value of their properties.”
Bill Martin, owner of Charlotte-based RLState.com, which represents buyers of foreclosure properties, said banks have been holding on to distressed properties for a long time.
“They’re just now releasing more inventory of their foreclosures,” he said. “We’re also seeing a whole lot more purchases.”
The biggest annual jumps in states with more than 1,000 home repossessions occurred in North Carolina, up 60 percent from the previous month, followed by gains of 44 percent in both Wisconsin and Illinois, 23 percent in Colorado and 19 percent in Michigan, according to RealtyTrac.
Florida had the highest rate of filings per household in May at one in 302, followed by Nevada at one in 305 and Ohio at one in 584. Maryland ranked fourth at one in 587 and South Carolina was fifth at one in 600, the data firm said.
More foreclosures are likely as initial filings increased in 26 states from the previous month and in 14 states from a year earlier, RealtyTrac said. First-time default notices more than tripled in Maryland, more than doubled in Connecticut and Hawaii, and rose more than 80 percent in Arkansas, New Jersey and Nevada. Bloomberg News contributed.
Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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