RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - Home foreclosures in Russell County are among the top 10 highest in the state, and Alabama real estate experts say sequestration at Fort Benning is to blame.
"A lot of homes in the Russell County area are owned by military or are being leased to a military family, and if you take 500 renters out of that market that is several hundred homes that could go into foreclosure," says Reynolds Bickerstaff, Chief Experience Officer at Waddell Realty.
Fort Mitchell, which is within Russell County, became a popular place for military families to live since it's located near Fort Benning's south gate, making a convenient commute for soldiers.
Once the Department of Defense announced it was cutting more than 3,000 positions at Fort Benning, the President of the Phenix City Board of Directors Billy Sims said he knew they would take a hit… he just didn't know how hard.
"That many troops at one time affects all of the business, there's just no way around it," Sims said.
According to the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Fort Benning is the number one employer in the area providing nearly 40,000 jobs.
However, military cutbacks have not proved to have the same impact on home foreclosures in Muscogee County.
"The pending foreclosures is not outpacing the current foreclosures, so it should be coming to a head," says Sims.
Russell County placed number nine on the top 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of home foreclosures, with one in every 1,200 homes in Russell County foreclosing.
"You can tell it's a big deal in Russell County because of the lack of industry, the lack of new business, and the lack of new construction," says Chris Lammons, Association Executive for the Phenix City Board of Realtors.
Despite the negative connotations, Lammons says an increase in foreclosures usually means a decrease in price.
"It's a buyer's market right now," says Lammons.
Although foreclosures are up in Russell County, when you compare Alabama's foreclosure rates to other states, you find Alabama's foreclosures are much lower.