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Foreclosures Drop in Houston

It wasn't that long ago we were hearing about the high number of homes being foreclosed on. Well, in some parts of the country the number is still high, but not  Houston. Bill Stamps reports on the decline and what it means for the city.

Houston real estate agent Jay Bradley has been selling homes for ten years, but he says the current Houston housing market is the best he’s ever seen. The reason?  An improving economy.

“For example, last year, we had over 70,000 jobs that were added, which I say helps out. You’ve got a lot more people that are employed here than other areas of the country, therefore you’ve got more people can afford to live in their homes and stay in their homes and, which is great for our business, purchase new homes.”

The latest numbers show a steady decline in foreclosures in Houston. Foreclosure postings, the first step in the process, are 23 percent lower in March of this year than March of 2011. Actual foreclosures are down 13 percent. This is Patrick Jankowski, a researcher with the Greater Houston Partnership.

“We’re on pace to create perhaps 90,000 jobs this year. With the economy growing like this, it’s no surprise that foreclosures are going to be declining, and if you look at the trend foreclosures are getting pretty close to where they should be given a normal economy.”

Agent Bradley says banks are helping out as well by showing a little more flexibility than they have in the past.

“One, there’s a ‘short sale process’ that the banks are a lot more friendly with now, that will allow you to do a short sale prior to the property going into foreclosure. One of the other reasons is also that they’re allowing you now to actually change the terms of your loan, as far as just do a loan modification.”

Jankowski says all of this is a sign that the Houston economy is getting its mojo back.

“It means people are able to make their housing payments. It means people aren’t being stretched out. It means that they have the funds, they have the income and they’re able to make their notes, or if they’re not able to make their notes, they’re able to work out something with their bank.”

If you’re one of those who’s into flipping homes, fewer foreclosures probably isn’t what you want to hear. But for everyone else, Jankowski say the news is good.

“Oh, it’s great news for Houston. I mean, a lot of other metropolitan areas wish they had the foreclosure rate we had. If you look at the trend, we’re pretty much back to where we should be for a normal economy for foreclosures.”

Almost back to normal.

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