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Tornado Ravaged Area Seeing Reduced Foreclosures

Nearly a year after a tornado devastated the town of Moore, Oklahoma, foreclosure activity is slowly dwindling in the area, specifically in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. RealtyTrac found that bank repossessions spiked 58 percent in the four months following the tornado but are pulling back as the area experiences recovery.

Foreclosure filings were reported on 898 properties in Oklahoma City in the first four months of 2014, a decrease of 19 percent compared to the first four months of last year prior to the tornado.

"The decrease of overall foreclosure activity in Oklahoma City is economically driven by the growth and expansion of the city since the tornado hit," said Sheldon Detrick, CEO of Prudential Detrick/Alliance Realty, covering the Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma markets. "Unemployment is down resembling pre-recession levels and Boeing just completed its move into Oklahoma City, which has helped elevate the economy in the city and its surrounding communities."

"A year after the Moore tornado devastated the southern part of Oklahoma City, we are starting to exceed pre-recession levels in all categories of the market," Detrick added.

Underwater homes are also declining—out of all the properties with loans, 14 percent are equity rich while 10 percent are considered seriously underwater.

As of the first quarter of 2014, 11 percent of the 1,267 properties in the foreclosure process in Oklahoma City had been vacated by the owner, compared to the national average of 21 percent.

"Vacant foreclosures pose a threat to the housing market in Oklahoma City because neither the distressed homeowner or the foreclosing lender are taking responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the home—or at the very least facilitating a sale to a new homeowner more likely to perform needed upkeep and maintenance," said Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac. "These properties drag down home values in the surrounding neighborhood and contribute to a climate of uncertainty."

The median home price for residential properties in Oklahoma City in March 2014 was $119,250, down 1 percent. March marked the sixth consecutive month where Oklahoma City median home prices decreased on a year-over-year basis.

About Author: Colin Robins

Colin Robins is the online editor for DSNews.com. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts from the University of Texas, Dallas. Additionally, he contributes to the MReport, DS News' sister site.

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