Ottawa County Register of Deeds Gary Scholten said he’s glad to report that the number of mortgage foreclosures dipped in 2011, and 2012 is looking even better.
There were 827 foreclosures recorded in 2011 in the county, compared to 953 in 2010. This is the lowest number since 2007, when 850 foreclosures occurred.
“What it is doing is creating consumer confidence,” Hogeboom said.
Nationally, bank-owned homes and short sales last year accounted for the smallest slice of overall sales in three years, but it still made up nearly a quarter of all U.S. homes sold in 2011. Some 907,138 sales were made last year of foreclosed homes and others that were in some stage of the process.
Foreclosure sales nationwide peaked in 2009 at about 1.1 million and made up about 37 percent of all sales.
The decline in foreclosure-related sales last year coincided with a sharp drop in the number of homes taken back by lenders as the banking industry wrestled with foreclosure-abuse claims.
Scholten noted that part of the reduction in foreclosures is caused by banks’ recent willingness to sell homes on short sales rather than foreclose on a home.
A short sale is when a seller arranges with a lender to accept a price less than what is owed on the property. The lender typically agrees to forgive the rest of the loan, and the seller doesn't have to go through a foreclosure. The bank also avoids being saddled with a foreclosed home after a sometimes lengthy legal process.
Local real estate agents are noticing an improvement in the market, as well.
“Now we’re working with sellers again instead of banks,” Grand Haven Realtor Sandi Gentry said. “Even since the beginning of this year, it has been better.”
People in the market for a new home have been able to take advantage of low-cost foreclosed properties to help make their home ownership dreams a reality.
Grand Haven Township resident Kyle Brill and his wife, Roxanne, were able to purchase a foreclosed home in Grand Haven Township and make it what they always wanted.
Brill said the house was a bargain.
“It wasn’t in the best of shape,” Brill said. “I was looking for a deal on something that I could redo on my own.”
He said there wasn’t a part of the home that he didn’t touch while remodeling. Purchasing a foreclosure and making it their own place wasn’t a new thing for the Brills.
“We had a home that was a foreclosure we bought in 2000 and did the exact same thing there,” Brill said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.