Mesa County foreclosure filings outpace rest of state

Mesa County foreclosure filings made up less than 3 percent of filings in the state in 2009, but the county led all others in percentage increase of filings from 2008 to 2009.

Mesa County had 1,290 home foreclosure filings last year, a 175 percent increase from the year before. Meanwhile, 359 homes were sold at foreclosure auctions, a 223 percent increase from 2008.

Boulder County had the next biggest jump in foreclosure filings with a 38 percent increase, and El Paso County had the second largest leap in foreclosure sales between 2008 and 2009, 11.5 percent.

Mesa County’s delayed entrance into a statewide increase in foreclosures could be partly to blame for the disparity between Grand Junction and Colorado’s other metropolitan areas, according to Ryan McMaken, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Housing.

McMaken said the Front Range counties that began experiencing higher foreclosure rates in 2008 turned a corner in 2009 as Mesa County’s foreclosure filings just started to rise.

Statewide, foreclosure sales at auction actually dropped from 2007 to 2008 and from 2008 to 2009. Filings also decreased between 2007 and 2008, but increased between 2008 and 2009.

The Division of Housing noted foreclosures in 2009 were often connected to a loss or lowering of income for home owners, rather than problems with rates and financing, McMaken said. Mesa County has led all other Colorado metropolitan areas in unemployment since June.

Mesa County’s upswing in foreclosures this year hasn’t surprised David Durham, a real estate broker with Bray & Co. Durham believes a combination of high unemployment, limited jobs and a decline in real estate values created the perfect storm over the past 14 months to usher in more foreclosures.

Durham said he has 20 to 30 homes in his inventory that were foreclosed upon and are now owned by banks.

“I have more bank properties than I’ve had since 1985,” he said.

Durham said most of the banks he deals with aren’t too interested in selling a home for a small price unless the home has been on the market for five or six months.

That can mean short sales, selling a home for a bargain-basement price to avoid foreclosure, can be hard to compete with. But foreclosures have the advantage of not taking as long to process as some short sales, which take several meetings to get approved, Durham said.

Completed foreclosures in Colorado can take about six to nine months, Colorado Foreclosure Hotline Manager Stephanie Riggi said. The process is taking a bit longer now because of the high volume of filings that banks are dealing with, Riggi said.

“Foreclosure does extend closer to eight months as more people are in the process,” she said.


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