Foreclosure filings are plummeting across the region, a sign that the worst of the housing bust -- for most homeowners -- is over.
But the recovery is concentrated in the District and other urban counties while the region's outlying areas still have a long way to go before the foreclosure crisis stops depleting property values.
Foreclosures in the Washington area fell by more than 54 percent in the first six months of the year, compared with the corresponding period last year, according to a report released Thursday by the foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac.
|Housing bust ending|
|Foreclosures are dropping, but some markets are still dealing with the aftermath.|
|rate (1/X)||Jan.-June||foreclosure||annual price|
"Once we get past all these foreclosures, I think the housing market will take off," said John McClain, deputy director of the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis. "There became a higher premium on location during this whole [housing bust]. So D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, they're almost back to peak [home prices] and that's largely because of their location."
But Prince William and Prince George's counties are still lagging. According to data from real estate technology developer Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., foreclosure sales in those jurisdictions still dominate the market. This spring and last spring, roughly half of homes sold in Prince George's were foreclosures.
In June that share was 40 percent, the highest in the region. By comparison, just 4 percent of homes sold in July 2008 were in foreclosure, according to MRIS. The county's home prices in June fell by nearly 10 percent compared with the prior June, the only jurisdiction to see a price drop.
McClain said he believes Prince William's foreclosure crisis has bottomed out the housing market there while Prince George's is approaching it. Although Prince William has the highest foreclosure rate in the region this year with one in every 79 homes, the percentage of homes selling in foreclosure has been steadily falling since it hit 47 percent in May 2009.
Foreclosures in Prince William made up 13 percent of all home sales last month and its prices in June were 2 percent higher than June 2010, according to MRIS.
Nationally, foreclosure filings through the first half of the year dropped by 29 percent compared with a year earlier. Total filings in the second quarter were the lowest quarterly total since the fourth quarter of 2007.