Sun Biz: Foreclosures December 21, 2008

Mesa County foreclosures not near Front Range levels

A recent Colorado Division of Housing foreclosure report paints Mesa County in a better light than the rest of the state.

The report tallied completed foreclosures, or foreclosures that went to sale, rather than the number of filings.

As of the end of September, there had been one completed foreclosure for every 749 houses in Mesa County. The ratio in Adams County is one in 58 houses, in Denver County one in 78 and in Pueblo County one in 102 houses.

“It’s a totally different situation for Mesa County,” said Ryan McMaken, spokesman for the division. “You guys are nowhere near in the same boat as some of the metro areas.”

McMaken said he used the number of completed foreclosures because it does not duplicate households that may have filed for foreclosure on two different mortgages, and because many foreclosure filings are stopped before going through the entire process. Sales figures were not available to use before, McMaken said.

Paul Brown, the Mesa County trustee, said it’s notable that the 74 foreclosures completed this year are as many as the same period in 2007, even though foreclosure filings are on track to be at least 20 percent higher.

“That number is telling me that we had a lot more lenders that withdrew the foreclosures,” Brown said. “They did not want us to take the homes to sale. They cured or withdrew and renegotiated the sale.

Brown credited the economic picture of the nation and the efforts of his office and the lending companies for making a real effort to work with borrowers to keep the property from going to sale for those people who can do it, and not everybody can.

“I guess the other good news is we’re still not as bad off as those other guys.”

The state’s completed foreclosures were down 14 percent compared to the first nine months of 2007.

Brown said the number of completed foreclosures in Mesa County normally are 30 percent of those filed.

Year-to-date, the number of foreclosures filed in Mesa County is 445, which is more than the total for 2007, Brown said. He predicted it will reach between 450 and 460. The number of completed foreclosures will be about 101, he added.

Counties nearby are in a similar situation in terms of the number of completed foreclosures, McMaken said.

“Housing’s so tight in Garfield County that if you can’t make payments, you just sell your house, and it goes in a month,” he said. “Moffat County is the other lowest place. Where mining activity is happening, there’s just nobody foreclosing.”

Not since the 1980s or early ’90s has Mesa County experienced a 20 percent increase in foreclosures, Brown said.

The current recession doesn’t come close to rivaling the economic times that followed the oil-shale bust, he added.

“Back in the ’80s, there were a couple of years where we had 1,400 or 1,500 foreclosures in a year,” Brown said. “It was really bad, I think, in ’86 or ’87. We’re still a long way away from that.”


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