Foreclosures rise at pace not seen since bust days

Mesa County Public Trustee Paul Brown on Thursday said he anticipates the county will top 1,000 foreclosure filings in 2009,  levels not seen since the years following western Colorado’s oil shale bust.

Brown’s forecast came as the Colorado Division of Housing released a report Thursday showing Mesa County’s foreclosure filings for the second quarter of 2009 outpaced the rest of the state with 264, up from 108 in the second quarter of 2008. That’s an increase of 144 percent.
Mesa County’s foreclosure filings also were up 51 percent from 175 in the first quarter this year.

“We’re not seeing any sign of it slowing down,” Brown said Thursday.

The state’s report said Mesa County’s rise in completed foreclosures — the foreclosed home was sold at auction or returned to the bank — also led the state over the second quarter of the year. The county had 102 foreclosure sales between January and June compared to 42 over the same period in 2008, an increase of 143 percent.

“This is likely due to a recent softening in the housing market in the Grand Junction area in response to the diminished oil and gas development in the region,” the state’s report concludes.

Brown said he had hoped a midsummer surge in foreclosure filings was just a reflection of attorneys trying to get paperwork filed in advance of Aug. 1, when new changes to foreclosure laws took effect.

Instead, he has seen 32 filings this week alone.

“It’s not bearing out,” Brown said. “It’s pretty much running like it was the last few weeks of July.”

Colorado had 12,135 foreclosure filings in the second quarter of 2009, up 15 percent from the previous quarter.

“If there’s a bright spot out there, we’re still not as bad off as the Front Range,” Brown said.

The state’s report said Mesa County had one completed foreclosure for every 544 county households. By comparison, Adams County reported 1 per 115 households; Weld County saw one for every 120.

John Lindman, director of housing counseling for Housing Resources of Western Colorado, said Mesa County’s foreclosure wave reflects the region’s downturn in oil and gas activity and overall unemployment.

“People are getting creative; renting out rooms and anything else they can do to hang onto their homes,” said Lindman, adding he sees reason for hope in the coming months.

“We’re seeing some significant improvements with (servicers) of loans,” Lindman said. “The Wells Fargos and Bank of Americas seem to be a bit more willing to enter negotiated loan modifications.”


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