BUDA, Texas (STPNS) -- In a year marked by a nationwide real estate crisis, Hays County is holding its own.

"We're not going through as painful a foreclosure process as some parts of the county," said Buda area realtor John Sanford. "I think we're still seeing positive growth."

Throughout 2008, 970 properties in Hays County were listed for foreclosure by the county clerk's office, averaging 80.8 per month.

That's an 8.75 percent increase over last year, when 892 homes were auctioned off on the steps of the county courthouse, but still lower than the totals for 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Though the year's total represents an increase, the 70 homes listed to be auctioned next month represent the lowest figure for December in at least six years.

More than half of the foreclosure postings this month came from the Kyle area, where families have flocked to new subdivisions springing up out of the ranchland. New home construction in Kyle slowed abruptly in 2007, as national builders began feeling the effects of the credit crisis.

Area foreclosures rose sharply in 2004, peaking that August with 121 homes posted for auction. That year, 1,064 properties were foreclosed on, averaging 88 listings per month, a 41 percent increase from 2003. Foreclosures declined steadily for the next three years.

The Hays County Clerk's Office posts the lists of properties about three weeks prior to the foreclosure auction. The properties that will be auctioned in December were posted on Nov. 12.

A lending agency can initiate foreclosure proceedings when the homeowner falls behind by three mortgage payments. Foreclosure rates can be a general indicator of a hale or slumping economy, can reflect high numbers of borrowers who resort to riskier adjustable-rate and sub-prime mortgages, and may also show when the homeseller's market has become glutted with properties.