WATERLOO, Iowa — Compared to the national average, foreclosures in the Cedar Valley, are relatively rare.
According to RealtyTrac.com, an online foreclosure database, 53,333 foreclosed properties were sold nationally in February 2013, which was 19.61 percent down from January.
The number of new foreclosures in March nationally totaled 152,500, which was down 1.15 percent from a month earlier. The average foreclosure sale price was $189,293 in March, which was up 10.12 percent from February.
Across Iowa, there were 9,268 foreclosure actions filed in March and 10,159 for sale, as of April 16. In Black Hawk County, there were 339 foreclosures and 134 foreclosed homes for sale, according to RealtyTrac.
Waterloo had 91 properties in that were in some stage of foreclosure — default, auction or bank-owned — while the number of homes listed for sale on RealtyTrac was 34.
In March, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in Waterloo was 12 percent lower than the previous month and 40 percent higher than the same time last year.
In Cedar Falls, as of April 16, there were 36 properties in some stage of foreclosure and 27 homes listed for sale.
In March, the number of properties in Cedar Falls that received a foreclosure filing was 14% lower than the previous month and 20 percent higher than the same time last year.
Real estate and banking experts note, though, that foreclosures are relatively low in Iowa and the Cedar Valley than elsewhere in the U.S.
“We have not been hit as bad as other states with foreclosed or short-sale homes,” said Don Marple, president of the Clive-based Iowa Association of Realtors.
Foreclosure is a complicated process and properties have to go through numerous stages in order to reach the market again, said Marple, a 36-year veteran real estate broker based in Eldridge.
“It could be up to a year to buy one to get through all the hoops a program or lender might have you jump through,” he said. “Iowa has been a pretty strong state in their background and ethics and things like that. They just don’t let them buy properties they can’t afford. People here want to make good sound decisions, so we don’t have as many foreclosures as other states. We do have them, but they’re not a major part of the business.”
The types and locations of foreclosed properties often are tough to track, since they’re often owned by banks that aren’t local, said Bob Reisinger, executive vice president of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Board of Realtors.
"It’s usually in the secondary market, and it’s hard to know the numbers,” he said.
But, he did note that the little information he had indicated that sale prices of foreclosed properties were going up, as they are on other homes on the market.
“That market is on the rebound,” he said.
Area bankers say foreclosures are down.
The numbers are down at MidWestOne Bank, an Iowa City-based bank that has branches in the Cedar Valley, said Kent Jehle, chief credit officer there.
“We’re in 19 communities in Iowa, and I can speak specifically to our footprint,” he said. “You go back to the 2009-10-11 period, and we’d have about one in each community in some stage of foreclosure; now, we’ve got less than half that amount.”
An improved economy seems to be the driver, but the bank also has worked with homeowners to avert foreclosure where possible, he said.
“Certainly the inflow has slowed down, and we worked hard to allow people to pay, so we feel, on the residential side, especially, as long as we were able to keep within that 90-day area, we tried to work with folks,” Jehle said. “Foreclosure is the last thing we’d want to occur; it doesn’t do anybody any good.”
Joe Vich, CEO at Community National Bank in Waterloo, said he had noticed a downturn in foreclosures.
“It certainly seems down from a couple of years ago,” he said. “We’re very fortunate here. We have very little of that in our portfolio. It just hasn’t been a significant issue for us. My sense is that it’s declining, and that’s a good sign.”
Attempts by the federal government to slow down the foreclosure rates has had an effect, said Steve Tscherter, CEO at Lincoln Savings Bank in Reinbeck.
“Secondly, there’s such an onus on big banks, particularly, to do anything short of foreclosure they can, they’ve kind of backed off. We haven’t had foreclosures, to speak of.”
Reisinger noted there was no way to eradicate the community of foreclosures.
“You’re always going to have foreclosures, whether it’s for medical reasons or divorce or other factors,” he said. “I just don’t feel it’s a big part of our market.”