The number of foreclosures set for next month's auction is, however, lower than the record-breaking 1,758 properties that were scheduled to be auctioned off at the December sale, which occurred Tuesday. The January number is also 6 percent less than the 1,292 properties that faced foreclosure in January 2010.
These are the last foreclosures of the year, because legal notices are published in January. For the year, 15,854 pieces of property have been advertised for the auction block, which is a 14.3 percent increase over the 13,867 properties advertised during the same time period in 2009. The second largest number of foreclosures heading for the courthouse steps in one month was set in the September sale, with 1,616 properties. In April, 1,551 properties were auction block-bound.
Legal notices must be published for four consecutive Fridays before a property can be sold at auction. Not all properties advertised necessarily end up at auction. Auctions begin at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month on the steps of the Cobb Superior Courthouse in Marietta. The next auction is scheduled for Jan. 4.
A survey released this week by RealtyTrac and Trulia showed that 58 percent of Americans don't expect the housing market to recover until after 2012.
James Guthrie of Community Bank Mortgage Services is among those who don't see a recovery in 2011.
"It is estimated that foreclosures will continue to stay at the levels that they are currently or even greater. That's just a part of the healing process that we have to get this stuff out of the system," Guthrie said. "With that stated, I don't really see any reason to be optimistic about great improvement of the foreclosures. That is reason for us to have Washington take a look at different solutions to be able to handle these foreclosures, as opposed to continue the same rules and process that we have now. I'd love for them to look at some kind of meaningful modification program."
When the economy does recover, foreclosure rates will go down but the market will still be flooded, said Russell Ives, owner of Marietta-based design/build residential construction company Custom Dwellings.
"It will take some time after a recovery to get the foreclosures off the market and get back to the new normal," he said. "Bottom line, things have gotten too bad to recover quickly, so I'm not very optimistic about 2011. Best case scenario this time next year we will have evidence of several months of stabilization and possibly an indication of a lasting upturn to give us something to look forward to in 2012 and beyond."
At 29 percent, Georgia is among several states where foreclosure sales accounted for at least one-quarter of all sales in the third quarter, according to RealtyTrac, a foreclosure listing firm. Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Michigan had higher rates.