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High Country Foreclosure Figures, Sentiment Not Good: The ‘Backlog Pending Could Choke a Goat’

Foreclosure By Jesse Wood

Jan. 25, 2013. Foreclosure filings for 2012 rose nearly 3 percent in the state over last year, according to statistics from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.

The High Country – Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties – fared better in that category with nearly 500 foreclosure filings, representing an 8.5 percent decrease from 2011 and nearly equaling 2009 figures.

Last year, Avery and Ashe counties had double-digit declines, while filings in Watauga County were in line with state-as-a-whole figures and actually increased 5 percent.

Just because a foreclosure is filed doesn’t mean it will actually foreclose, so the exact totals are difficult to quantify, but speaking with veteran real estate agents in the High Country who track local foreclosures, the High Country had an increase in foreclosures for 2012.

Jim Dorman, owner of Castle Rock Realty in Banner Elk and a real estate agent for 46 years, noticed “quite a few more foreclosures” in Avery County in 2012. 

“There’s a backlog pending that could choke a goat,” said Dorman, adding that he’s noticed foreclosure – and non-foreclosure – sales under $200,000 and over $750,000 – but “nothing going on” in between.

This pending backlog seems on par with last year.

In 2011, foreclosure filings in the state dropped in the 20-percent range over record-high totals in 2010, which was the year the bottom fell out of the real estate market everywhere. While the significant decline sounded encouraging, bank and real estate experts attributed the drop to a backlogged, lengthened foreclosure process. 

Eric Lanier, a real estate agent in the High Country, runs Lanier Management Tools, a company that tracks real estate statistics. Because he just recently began compiling data in Avery and Ashe counties, he only has historical foreclosure data for Watauga County.

According to his figures, Watauga County, in 2012, experienced a significant increase in actual foreclosures.

He noted that Watauga had 188 foreclosures this year on all kinds of properties that ranged from houses, town-homes, condominiums and land.

In 2011, 120 properties were foreclosed upon. That’s a 57 percent year-over-year increase.

Speaking generally about the near future of the overall real estate market – not just including foreclosures, Lanier said, “Well, I hate to be a pessimist. I don’t really see an indication to say it’s going to get any better.”