Foreclosure activity in Pierce and Thurston counties was higher in the third quarter compared with the same time in 2014 — and that might be good news.
RealtyTrac data show the number of bank repossessions, the final stage in the foreclosure process, more than doubled in the county year-over-year. Because home prices are steadily rising, the banks can recoup their losses by selling the properties, RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist said Wednesday. That helps a market that doesn’t have enough houses for sale to meet demand.
Recent data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service showed inventory levels under three months, indicating a strong seller’s market. Inventory is considered balanced at six months — the number of months it would take to sell all the single-family homes for sale.
“Those bank repossessions will easily be absorbed into a market where inventory is low and pent up demand for lower priced homes will be welcome relief,” he said in an email.
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The “overall housing market should easily absorb the additional foreclosure activity with little impact on home values,” he said.
Pierce County’s foreclosure activity increased by 7 percent year over year; Thurston County, a smaller market, was up 19 percent.
The uptick in foreclosure activity was reflected in the national data, which showed a 3 percent increase year over year. Washington state was up 10 percent.
In other parts of the country, where demand for houses is softer, the increase in final-stage foreclosures isn’t a bright spot.
“In states such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York, a flood of deferred distress from the last housing crisis is finally spilling over the legislative and legal dams that have held back some foreclosure activity for years,” Blomquist said in a news release. “That deferred distress often represents properties with deferred maintenance that will sell at more deeply discounted prices, creating a drag on overall home values.”