Foreclosures increase in South Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Foreclosures increase in South Georgia

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June 2, 2008

Albany  -- 31 foreclosed properties are scheduled to be auctioned on the Dougherty County Courthouse steps Tuesday morning. The first Tuesday of each month, foreclosure sales are held at courthouses across South Georgia. And attorney say  the number of South Georgia properties being auctioned has increased dramatically.

Four properties owned by the Friendship Baptist Church of Albany will be auctioned on the Dougherty Courthouse steps Tuesday morning, foreclosed because the church has not repaid a loan of more than $215,000. Just one of dozens of foreclosures being sold to the highest bidder.

Bankruptcy attorney Walter Kelley said "Tomorrow there are 31 properties in Dougherty County alone. And probably the same number in Lee, and Terrell, and Worth."

 Attorneys say in past years four foreclosures a month was high, but now it's consistently more than 30 a month. Attorney Brad Folsom says while the number of foreclosures has increased tremendously, South Georgia is still better than most of the country.  

Folsom said "this area and Southwest Georgia in general, probably has been spared more than the metro areas like Atlanta, and other big cities."

Foreclosed properties not only signal bad economic times, but can be destructive to whole communities.  Kelley said "A lot of them may be vacant homes. That increases vandalism. It's very bad for the banks and insurance companies, because you see a rise in arson rates. People can't make the payments, somehow the house catches on fire. It's just bad for society."

Folsom said his bank clients are in good shape and loans strong.  Folsom said "so I think we are going to do somewhat better than the average around the country."

But Kelley worries that the number of foreclosures will get worse, before they get better. Kelley said "I don't think we are going to see a whole lot of relief, in the next 12 months."

 And that could mean 30 or more properties being sold on the Courthouse steps every month for a year.

Equally troubling, 27 United States corporations have registered defaults of loans so far this year, and credit rating agencies say 107 more are on the brink. Corporations defaults mean loss of jobs and that leads to more people struggling to keep their homes.

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