Mortgage payoffs jump in county

A real estate company sign shows a listing on Darlene Court in Fruitvale. Mortgage payoffs because of homes that were sold, loans that were refinanced or loans that were paid off in full increased 21.6 percent during the third quarter in Mesa County compared with the same period in 2011, according to the Colorado Division of Housing.

Mesa County experienced a 21.6 percent bump year-over-year in the number of mortgage loans completed in the third quarter of 2012.

Mortgages can be completed in three ways: a home sale, a mortgage loan refinance or the successful payoff of a home loan. The Colorado Division of Housing released a report Monday showing more mortgages were paid off, refinanced or ended in a home sale this July through September compared with third quarter 2011 in each of the state’s 21 largest counties.

The trend is a good sign for Colorado’s housing market, according to Colorado Division of Housing spokesman Ryan McMaken. Mortgage completions tend to correlate with growth in home sales and completions often increase when mortgage rates decrease, as they have every quarter since the first quarter of 2011, and make refinancing more appealing.

Front Range counties Denver, Douglas and Jefferson led the state’s most populous counties in year-over-year mortgage completion growth, with each of those three counties experiencing a surge in completions of more than 70 percent. Mesa County’s smaller year-over-year growth likely can be attributed to a gradual, if bumpy, decline in foreclosures and this year’s modest gains in home sales and prices, trends that are heading in the right direction but still lag behind many Front Range counties that are emerging from the recession sooner.

“There is good news there” because completions are up, McMaken said. “They’re just not as high as other places.”

Robert Bray, president of Bray Real Estate, said Mesa County home sales are up 13 percent in the first nine months of 2012 compared with the first nine months of 2011. The median sale price is up, too, from $160,000 in the first nine months of last year compared with $166,900 in the first nine months of this year, he said. But the mid-range price doesn’t necessarily reflect a shift in desire for lower-priced homes so much as a shift in availability.

“If nothing else was listed, we’d be out of lower-end listings in three to four months. We’re seeing less and less available at that price,” Bray said, referring to homes below $200,000.

Bray said it will take more jobs and change in the current Mesa County economy to see further recovery in the housing market.

Although refinancing to take advantage of lower interest rates can be tougher for people with inadequate income or employment, Fidelity Mortgage in Grand Junction Regional Vice President James Pulsipher said he has “definitely seen an influx” in local refinance activity. He said that activity has been helped this year by two federal programs: the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which opened refinancing opportunities starting this spring to certain homeowners even if they were “underwater” on their mortgage, and the Federal Housing Authority’s Streamline Refinance program, which eliminated some documentation in the refinancing process.

“People who are currently delinquent on their mortgages or people who have filed for bankruptcy in recent years” are the ones most subject now to a rejection for a refinancing opportunity, Pulsipher said. “Otherwise, there’s usually something out there.”


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