No housing recovery despite low Maryland foreclosures

Darci Marchese, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Fewer foreclosures can still be a bad thing when many more are coming down the pike.

According to RealtyTrac, foreclosures in Maryland dropped by 29 percent in December 2011 compared to the same month in 2010. They dropped 11 percent when comparing November 2011 to December 2011.

But the temporary low stems in part from foreclosures getting caught up in the court system. Plus, RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist says initial filings — which are the first sign that a homeowner is in trouble — actually increased by 74 percent in December 2011 compared to December 2010.

Add in the fact that it can take nearly two years to move a foreclosure onto the market, and recovery appears to be a long way off in Maryland.

“Having a process that takes that long, such that it does not work through the system, it’s perpetuating the length of the recession and perpetuating the length of the recovery,” says John McClain, a senior fellow and deputy director at George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis.

McClain says moving foreclosures quickly is paramount to the recovery of a housing market.

“New people own those houses, they’re fixing them up and the neighborhoods are improving and the prices are stabilizing,” he says.

That’s what’s happening in Northern Virginia. RealtyTrac says initial filings for foreclosure in Virginia have been decreasing for 14 months straight.

Plus it takes on average 132 days — or about four months — for the entire foreclosure process to occur in Virginia. Compare that with 634 days — or nearly two years — in Maryland.

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