The foreclosure rate in the Winston-Salem metropolitan statistical area climbed again in December, according to a report timed for release today by Attom Data Solutions, .

The five-county region had 165 filings, up 12.2% from December 2018.

However, the filings were down 13.6% from November.

Forsyth County, as usual, led the five-county area with 121 filings, up 11% from a year ago and down 4% from November.

Davidson County was next at 26 filings, followed by 10 in Stokes County, and four each for Davie and Yadkin counties.

By comparison, the Greensboro-High Point metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, had 196 filings, up 81.5% from a year ago, but down 13.6% from November.

Guilford County, as typical, had the most at 156, followed by 27 in Rockingham County and 13 in Randolph County.

The Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord area had 461 filings, down 0.9% from a year ago, but up 4.1% from November. Mecklenburg County had the most in the 10-county MSA at 215.

The Durham-Chapel Hill area had 56 filings, up 107.4% from a year ago, but down 20% from November. Durham County had the most in the four-county MSA at 39.

The Raleigh-Cary MSA had 174 filings, up 6.7% from a year ago and down 7.9% from November. Wake County had the most in the three-county MSA at 128.

“The continued decline in distressed properties is one of many signs pointing to a much-improved housing market compared to the bad old days of the Great Recession,” said Todd Teta, the chief product officer for Attom.

However, Teta cautioned that “there is some reason for concern about the potential for a change in the wrong direction, given that residential foreclosure starts increased in about a third of the nation’s metro housing markets in 2019.”

“While that’s not a major worry, it’s something that should be watched closely in 2020,” he said.

Officials with the Winston-Salem Regional Association of Realtors have cautioned that information about delinquency and/or underwater loans can affect the real-estate market by undermining consumer confidence, causing some hesitation in buying or trying to sell a house now and prompting an overreaction.

On Tuesday, CoreLogic, a national real-estate research company, reported that the percentage of Winston-Salem-area homeowners late on their mortgage payments continued on a slight downward trend during October.

The rate was 4.6%, compared with 5.2% in the year-earlier period.

The report focuses on the delinquent-mortgage market, with “delinquent” defined as being at least 30 days overdue on payment.

The delinquency rate was 1.4% for mortgage payments more than 90 days past due, down from 1.6% a year earlier. Both figures include houses in the foreclosure pipeline.

Economists say housing markets and lenders are benefiting from more homeowners being able to stay current on their monthly mortgage payments, in part because of refinancing to lower mortgage rates.

For the Greensboro-High Point MSA, the 30-day delinquency rate was 4.9%, down from 5.6% a year earlier, while the delinquency rate of more than 90 days was 1.6%, down from 1.9% a year ago.

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