Foreclosures decrease nationwide, increase in SC

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The overall foreclosure rate across the nation has been getting better, but the latest numbers show things are not moving as quickly in South Carolina.

The Palmetto State saw a 32 percent increase in foreclosures from the last month, most of them happening in the upstate counties.

Horry County is the fourth highest, but still better than the state's average. Industry experts say we should be past the worst of the housing crisis, and the activity we're seeing now is property that was already in the process of being seized.

Local real estate experts say these high numbers are expected in certain markets.

"All the ones that are vacation areas or second homes. California, Nevada, Florida, South Carolina. So it's not that alarming in that regard because it was already shadow of inventory that was really kind of accounted for anyways," said real estate expert Blake Sloan. "But it's something to obviously monitor and make sure that we can address and watch in the future."

But it's not just these numbers that experts are watching out for. There's been a big focus on the billions of dollars in tax hikes and spending cuts with the pending fiscal cliff, but there's one expiring tax break many say has gone under the radar. Housing related tax cuts should be one of the biggest concerns because it effects everyone.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which allows debt to be forgiven in a short sale, is set to expire Dec. 31. If this tax break isn't extended, distressed homeowners would have to pay thousands more in taxes. The thousands in extra tax costs could drive down the number of short sales, which affects the whole market. They make up about 40 percent of all home sales right now.

Some say this issue should be a no brainer for lawmakers, because many homeowners already have too many financial burdens.

"It's terrible because people are struggling bad enough with jobs, and the economy, taking care of their family, and to not be able to afford a home, that's terrible," said Ira Walker, a former homeowner.

Steps are already being made to save the act. Instead of waiting for lawmakers to make a move, 41 state attorney generals have signed a letter urging congressional leaders to extend the act before that happens.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.