Foreclosure filings triple from same time last year, sales up

Foreclosure filings and completed foreclosures in Mesa County rose sharply from the second quarter to the third quarter this year, according to Colorado Division of Housing data released Thursday. Those third-quarter totals also were more than triple the amounts recorded in the third quarter of 2008.

Mesa County foreclosure filings more than tripled in the third quarter this year, compared with the third quarter of 2008, rising from 116 to 373. Meanwhile, 100 foreclosed Mesa County homes or buildings were sold to a bank or other buyer in the third quarter this year, compared with 32 completed foreclosures in the third quarter of 2008, according to the housing division.

The completed foreclosures likely entered the foreclosure process in the second quarter of 2009, when there were 264 filings in Mesa County. Foreclosure filings in the first quarter numbered 175.

It takes about three months of nonpayment on a mortgage before a lender makes a foreclosure filing with a county public trustee, signalling the homeowner could be evicted and the home sold. After the filing, a home can be auctioned 110 to 125 days later if the homeowner can’t meet the requirements to get out of foreclosure.

The number of Mesa County filings isn’t alarming compared to some larger counties on the Front Range, housing division spokesman Ryan McMaken said Thursday. Mesa County also has a low ratio of foreclosures to homes: 1 to 283.

What McMaken sees as discouraging is the possibility foreclosure numbers will continue to rise locally. Front Range foreclosure numbers are starting to level off, he said. But that’s not the case in less-populated parts of the state.

“The distinction is that Mesa County is moving up the list. If this continues, they’ll be equivalent to more hard-hit counties,” McMaken said.

David Durham, a Realtor with Bray Real Estate in Grand Junction, said he’s handling more homes in foreclosure now than he has since the mid-1980s.

Durham said lenders are reluctant to discuss short sales as a way of getting a home out of foreclosure. In a short sale, the property in foreclosure is sold for less than the homeowner owes the lender.

And there are ways to avoid an auction, Durham said.

“I think some of the people hear the horror stories and assume they can’t get their place sold,” Durham said. “If there’s any equity there, getting the house sold is the best solution for everybody.”

Stephanie Riggi, manager of the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline, 1-877-601-4673, said the best thing a person in foreclosure can do is call the hot line for advice.

Many people have taken that advice, she said, as call center volume has increased by 40 percent this year.

Although face-to-face counseling can be in scarce supply on the Western Slope, Riggi said the hot line is working around that problem in many cases.

“We are trying to reroute callers to counselors over the phone. We don’t want to lose people just because they can’t keep up with call volume,” she said.


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