Many articles are quoting the following statement by Daren Blomquist, a spokeman for RealtyTrac: “We’re now well past the peek of the foreclosure crisis.” Unfortunately, we must question this statement and any data coming from RealtyTrac here in Tennessee, and here’s why. It’s widely known that RealtyTrac’s data for Tennessee is inaccurate. Tennessee doesn’t require “Notices of Default” to be recorded as public records. It appears from searching RealtyTrac frequently asked questions, they use “Notices of Default” and “Lis Pendens” filings to generate their reports. While this could work in other states, it does not work in Tennessee.
Tennessee falls under rules of non-judicial foreclosures. This means that these type records cannot be relied upon for accurate information. The most accurate information is obtained from each counties register of deeds office. Another consideration is that there are many “Zombie Titles” that aren’t filed timely by the foreclosure firms which provides further complications. These deeds are not recorded promptly and gives false title to the foreclosed homeowner as they still show as the owner of record in a public records search. Having a public records showing an asset, such as a house, that is no longer actually theirs presents a snowball effect to those who’ve already been impacted by the housing crisis.
As my office searches three counties in Middle Tennessee, we find that RealtyTrac should not be used in factual reports or considered reliable. The Tennessee Department of Housing Administration publishes a quarterly newsletter which uses this information because it’s the best information that they can consistently obtain over time. When questioned about the accruacy of the data, Hula Arik, PhD and Research Coordinator for THDA replied “even with these issues, when we compare the same RealtyTrac data over time, we are able to make some meaningful comparisons.”
It would be my suggestion that the Tennessee Legislature strengthen our state laws to require the following.
- A legal organ for the publication of foreclosure notices in our state similar to other states like Georgia for example.
- A requirement that “Appointments of Substitute Trustees” be recorded within a specific period of time.
- A requirement that Deeds be recorded timely.
If you would like to compare my research about our local foreclosure crisis numbers with what is published by RealtyTrac and used in the THDA quarterly foreclosure report, please contact me by email.
As the National Association of Realtors constantly reminds the public, real estate is local. With that in mind, one should not rely on national media stories or national statistics for their local area. Call your local Realtor® to get local information.