14 Oct Report About Georgia Foreclosure Crisis Show to be Overblown
The Atlanta newspapers blared headlines this past week about a mounting foreclosure “crisis” in Georgia. The news stories quoted statistics from a California company called RealtyTrac showing 12,602 July foreclosures in Georgia a jump of 75% from June to July.
On Sunday, October 13, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution acknowledged that the RealtyTrac numbers were flawed – it turns out that the actual number of Georgia foreclosures was closer to 10,000 rather than 12,600. The jump from June was 14%, not 75%.
RealtyTrac is currently examining statistics from prior months to see if those numbers are also incorrect. The errors arose when RealtyTrac counted some foreclosures twice.
The point of all this is not to deny that many Georgia families are losing their homes to foreclosure – 10,000 foreclosures in a month is still a large number. But all of us in the bankruptcy business – debtor’s lawyers, creditor lawyers, trustees and judges need to be careful about throwing around the term “crisis.” Reports of out of control foreclosure can fuel panics and debtor’s lawyers in particular need to be agents of recourse not contributors to unnecessary hysteria.
There has been a lot of talk amongst debtors’ lawyers about desired changes to the Bankruptcy Code to allow judges to modify mortgage terms, and about other possible changes to the BAPCPA law. If we want to successfully advocate for our client constituency, we need to deal in fact and not assume that every purveyor of statistics uses appropriate methodologies.
Jonathan Ginsberg, Esq.
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