Foreclosure filings, sales, scams all rise

Some fall prey to businesses that take the money and run

Reports of businesses trying to scam people who are in the foreclosure process have become more common in Mesa County as foreclosure filings and sales have increased.

A report released Thursday by the Colorado Division of Housing shows foreclosure sales and filings are decreasing statewide but still are climbing in Mesa County. Foreclosure filings in the county increased 40 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2010, while foreclosure sales ballooned by nearly 400 percent in 2010’s second quarter compared to the second quarter of 2009. Sales on average occur eight months after the foreclosure process begins with a filing.

Local foreclosure sales and filings remained relatively stable from the first to the second quarter of the year.

With just three foreclosure counselors on the Western Slope, some people are turning to companies across the nation that claim they will help people get out of the foreclosure process for a fee. Amy Case, one of the three counselors and a Grand Junction Housing Authority employee, said it’s common for her to hear from these clients that the businesses have done little or nothing to help after the money is sent.

“As the foreclosure rates have increased here, we’ve seen more of that,” Case said. “I would say it’s a fairly frequent complaint.”

People are being duped across the state, according to Denver-based Colorado Foreclosure Hot Line Manager Stephanie Riggi.

“It’s something we’re trying to raise awareness about for Colorado homeowners,” Riggi said. “We see it often, but I could see it being more prevalent in Mesa County now because of the lack of counseling resources there.”

Riggi said the Better Business Bureau and the Colorado Attorney General can offer information about companies that prey on people in foreclosure or preforeclosure. But those businesses can switch names or relocate easily, she said.

Instead of seeking outside help, Case and Riggi said it’s better to work long-term with a Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counselor.

“Anyone that’s worked with us cooperatively long-term has not lost their home to foreclosure,” Case said.

Properties still are making it onto the foreclosure sale block, though, as evidenced by the latest increase. Bray Real Estate broker David Durham said he has sold about 28 homes since January that had been foreclosed on, and he’s getting more inventory all the time.

“I continue to see a consistent stream of new properties come across my desk. I don’t know if it’s increased any, but it’s maintained volume,” Durham said. “They’re getting sold. Unfortunately they’re getting sold for lower and lower prices.”

Durham said he has seen some banks get so overwhelmed with foreclosed property they’ve gone a nontraditional route for better times and handed auction companies a list of homes to sell in bulk.


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