Foreclosure ranking for Omaha metro is a head scratcher


In a span of just weeks, the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area has found itself on the Top 10 lists of two national companies that track the housing market.

One list, by Trulia, put the Omaha area among the top healthiest markets going into 2013.

On Wednesday, a less desirable ranking by RealtyTrac placed the Omaha area among metros with high percentage increases in foreclosure activity in 2012 from the year before.

The situation baffled many, including Peg Maloney of RE/MAX Real Estate Group. “It just doesn't make much sense.”

George Akers, a board member of the Nebraska Mortgage Association and executive vice president of First Mortgage Co., said the RealtyTrac ranking doesn't reflect what he's seen. He said that delinquency rates at his Omaha and Lincoln locations are “incredibly low” and that he hasn't noticed many foreclosure starts.

RealtyTrac looked at the percentage increase of properties that either started or finished foreclosure proceedings. In Omaha's case, actual numbers were relatively low, which can make a percentage increase seem higher than in metros with a bigger volume of foreclosure activity.

RealtyTrac research showed that 2,033 Omaha area properties started or completed foreclosure during the first 11 months of 2012, up from 1,474 the previous year. That 38 percent increase ranked Omaha No. 7 among about 900 metro areas, said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president.

The Miami area, on the other hand, ranked 30th with its 15 percent increase from 58,984 foreclosure-related properties to 67,681.

Blomquist said the Top 10 metros are likely to see increased foreclosure inventory in 2013. “Typically it is not a good sign for the health of a housing market to have more foreclosures; it tends to drive down overall home prices, values.”

He said delays in processing foreclosure cases drove the recent surge. Many lending institutions, he said, were in a “delay and pray mode,” hoping the foreclosure would go away. Dealing with distressed properties should allow a more complete recovery, he said.

Blomquist acknowledged that Omaha's foreclosure rate is below the national average, a more common measurement of a healthy market. “The market will still be strong enough in Omaha to absorb this foreclosed inventory without a huge hit to home prices.”

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