Real Estate News

Ending to foreclosures in Pierce, Thurston counties could be welcome in tight housing market

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.

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.”

Kathleen Cooper: 253-597-8546