Calhoun County foreclosures

So far this year, Calhoun County foreclosures are at their lowest level in at least a decade, county records show.

The drop in foreclosures corresponds with a rise in average prices and sales the county housing market has seen this year. Some housing experts say foreclosures are down locally and nationally as the economy continues to improve and home values rise, making it easier and more profitable to sell a house than to abandon it.

Calhoun County Probate Office records show that as of Aug. 31 this year, the county has had 124 foreclosures. Over the same period last year, the county had 226 foreclosures.

“That does not surprise me ... there are very few that we are seeing in the market,” Joey Crews of Keller Williams Realty in Anniston said of the drop in foreclosures.

Those county foreclosure numbers only rise back through the last decade to 2008, when the Great Recession began. The county had 226 foreclosures between January and August in 2008.

The Great Recession began with the collapse of the housing market, which in turn hurt the economy and led to millions of Americans losing their jobs. High unemployment then resulted in many people foreclosing on their houses, which all then flooded markets and severely depreciated home values for years.

In the last couple of years, however, the county’s housing market has all but recovered, with home sales and prices approaching pre-recession levels.

According to the Alabama Center for Real Estate, the second quarter of the year had an 8.8 percent jump in home sales and a 6.6 percent rise in average sales prices in the county compared to the same period last year.

Crews said that back during the height of the recession, homes were hard to sell because they had lost so much value. Now that prices are up, it makes little sense to foreclose, Crews said.

“I’ve helped several young people who bought their first home two to four years ago sell recently and make $30,000 to $40,000,” he said. “It’s no longer profitable to let them go.”

Stuart Norton, research coordinator for the Alabama Center for Real Estate, said statewide and national foreclosure trends are similar to those of the county.

“One thing that’s a factor in this is that home price appreciation has sped up, helping homeowners build equity,” Norton said.

Norton added that improvements in the economy and the job market have also helped keep foreclosures low.

Shad Williams, president and CEO of Cheaha Bank in Oxford, said he also wasn’t surprised about the county’s low foreclosure rate this year.

“Our delinquency is down and very rare for us,” Williams said.

Williams said the stronger job market has helped keep foreclosures low.

“And even if someone did lose their job, they could sell their house now, take the equity and wait for a better day,” Williams said.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.