The number of York County properties listed for sheriff's sale in June is the lowest in two years, but it's an anomaly.
"It's a drop, but then we have 14 tubs of filings to go through for August's sales. August will be high again," said Kathy Holes, who handles the listings in the county sheriff's office.
There are 201 properties listed for sheriff's sale on Monday, June 9. That's 77 fewer properties than the 278 listed in April.
Last month, 157 properties sold during sheriff's sale. Of those properties, 108 were new and 49 were postponed sales.
The number of local properties listed for sheriff's sale has remained above 200 since April 2012, with no decrease in sight.
Meanwhile, other economic predictors, such as unemployment and the housing market, have shown improvement across the county, state and country.
But foreclosures and sheriff's sales continue to be high across the U.S.
The high number of foreclosures has led to a high number of sheriff's sales. When a mortgage borrower fails to pay the amount due on a home loan, lenders can file judicial foreclosure which allows them to sell the property and pay off the outstanding debt. That sale of property is carried out by the local sheriff.
"I think it shows how many bad mortgages were written in 2008 and 2009," said Pam Lee, county prothonotary.
There were 145 foreclosure filings last month, and 62 have been filed this month, as of Friday.
"It looks comparable to last year, and they're staying high. You start to wonder if it's going to stay like this forever," she said. The triple-digit filings aren't as high as the number filed in 2009. But after a drop-off in 2011 and late 2012, the filings increased.
"They seem to be stabilizing at this high level," Lee said. "Until the economy picks up and more people get jobs, it may keep going this way."
The unemployment rate in York County is the lowest it's been since before the recession.
It was at 5.8 percent in March, according to the most recent statistics from the state Department of Labor & Industry.
But there are also fewer people looking for work. The state department doesn't track why people drop out of the workforce, but it knows thousands of York County residents have chosen to do that, said William Sholly, an analyst with the state department.
"When people aren't working, they can't pay their mortgage," Lee said.
Realtors also notice the high number of foreclosures in the county.
"We see them every day. There are still a ton out there, and it's countywide," said John LeCates, a Realtor and past president of the Realtors Association of York & Adams Counties.
Overall, the local housing market has improved. York County homes sales increased 16 percent in April as 338 homes were sold, according to statistics released earlier this month by the association.
But the median sale price has remained stagnant or shown only a small increase.
"Foreclosures hold down prices. It's good for the buyer and bad for the seller," LeCates said.
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