Here’s the good news: Foreclosures are declining in North Texas. Steve Brown (sub. required) reports today that lenders foreclosed on more than 7,800 D-FW homes during the first half of 2011, using figures from the folks in the know, Addison-based Foreclosure Listing Service. Looking over the past three years of hell we have experienced, that’s more than a 10 percent drop in foreclosures from the first half of 2010 and even better, a 25 percent drop from the same period in 2008, says Steve: And here are the words that make my day:

 “It was the lowest total for the first six months in more than four years.”

Then D’Ann Petersen, a business economist over at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said “The housing market is still wobbly, but it does appear to have reached a bottom.”

Those of us who live “in the bubble” always wonder where are these foreclosures concentrated? The answer is the far-out suburban areas. Foreclosure rates are highest in  Collin County suburb cities like Celina, Anna, Princeton, Lavon and Little Elm in Denton County. Rates are also higher in the south side suburbs of Lancaster, Glenn Heights and Forest Hill southeast of Fort Worth, plus Blue Mound and, ironically, Fate in Rockwall County.

I recall writing a story about how great life was in Fate not that long ago. But a recent story in The Huffington Post reports that suburbs are catching up to the major cities when it comes to poverty. Though cities still have nearly double the rate of poverty as suburban areas, the number of people living in poverty in the suburbs of major metropolitan areas increased by 53 percent between 2000 and 2010, as compared to an increase of 23 percent among city-dwellers, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of recently released census data. In 16 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Dallas and Milwaukee, the suburban poor has more than doubled over the last decade.

Steve Brown reports that, in the first part of 2011, the loans that ended up in foreclosure averaged 6 years old on homes valued at about $122,581. The average tax assessment value was $141,199 for the properties sold at foreclosure auction. The houses were about 1900 square feet in size. All this jives with what I said last show on KXAS-Nonstop Nightly: most of the homes in foreclosure are at $200,000 and under.

Could the worst be behind us? We know some lenders have delayed home foreclosures this year, so it may not be Miller Time just yet. Some experts predict that foreclosure volumes could rise later this year and into 2012.

But the guru of real estate in Texas, that being my hero Dr. James Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, does think the worst may be behind us. Still, Jim Saccacio, president of the nationwide foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac, doesn’t think Texans are out of the woods YET. Thank God we live in Texas. Experts here think the impact of foreclosures here will be far less severe than elsewhere. In affluent neighborhoods, home sales and prices are stabilizing and I know of at least one home that appraised for more than asking price! At least three homes written about on this blog are under contract or have sold. The only truly slow go area I know of in Dallas is the Turtle Creek condos. I’m chasing a rumor that a man from China bought an entire floor at the new Museum Tower.