Foreclosures skyrocket
Number of local repossessed homes hits five-year high

LAWRENCEVILLE - After a record number of foreclosures in September, Gwinnett County has even more people in danger of losing their homes in October.

Foreclosure filings in the county skyrocketed to 1,019 in October, which is up 35.5 percent from last month, according to numbers kept by the Gwinnett Daily Post. This is the most foreclosure filings in a month in the last five years.

Gwinnett is averaging 689 foreclosures a month in 2007, a 31.7 percent increase from the 2006 average and a 57.7 percent increase from the 2005 average.

These foreclosure numbers represent properties in default and which ran legal advertisements in the Gwinnett Daily Post indicating the home would be up for auction on the first Tuesday of the following month. Legal advertisements for any property being foreclosed on within the county must be published in the Gwinnett Daily Post a month prior to the property being sold.

The county's foreclosure epidemic will mean trouble for all of the county's residents, not just the families facing the loss of their homes. A flood of foreclosed homes could lead to a decrease in property values and an increased financial burden on county government, said Marina Sampanes Peed, president of The Impact Group, a nonprofit organization in Duluth that helps financially troubled families make educated housing decisions.

Peed said while she was surprised by how drastic the increase was from September to October, she expects numbers to continue to rise over the next several months.

"I think it's going to keep going up for a while," Peed said.

Much of the foreclosure problem is due to homeowners who had adjustable rate mortgages and are now seeing their interest rates increase beyond what they can afford, Peed said.

To compound things, troubled homeowners are also having a tough time selling their homes because of excess inventories in the new construction and resale markets, said Roger Tutterow, dean of Mercer University's business school.

"Existing homeowners that might be distressed are finding it harder to sell off a distressed property," Tutterow said.

The foreclosure crisis has gotten so serious The Impact Group is doing everything it can to let the community know about its services. The nonprofit has asked local ministers to treat Nov. 4 as Foreclosure Prevention Sunday by warning their congregations of the perils of foreclosure and informing them of The Impact Group's services.

Anyone interested in a counseling session or attending a seminar with The Impact Group can contact them by phone at 678-808-4477 or by e-mail at info@theimpactgroup.org. More information is also available on the Web at www.theimpactgroup.org .