Mesa County among highest in foreclosures
One out of every 288 homes in Mesa County completed the foreclosure process in the fourth quarter of 2012, giving the county the eighth-highest foreclosure rate among Colorado’s 64 counties.
While Front Range counties have mostly left recession-era foreclosure troubles behind and counties on the Eastern Plains didn’t see much change in foreclosures to begin with, Western Slope and mountain counties are still waiting for true improvement in their foreclosure numbers, according to Colorado Division of Housing spokesman Ryan McMaken.
“It’s not necessarily cause for alarm, it just means things aren’t improving as quickly as you’d like,” McMaken said.
A Division of Housing foreclosure report released Wednesday showed foreclosure filings, which signal the beginning of the foreclosure process, shrank 24 percent from 357 in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 272 in the fourth quarter of 2012 in Mesa County. Meanwhile, the number of completed foreclosures in Mesa County increased 28 percent year-over-year, from 158 in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 202 in the fourth quarter of 2012.
McMaken said the swing in completed foreclosures may be linked to Mesa County entering the recession later than other Colorado metropolitan areas and still fighting to exit the economic downturn.
While larger metropolitan areas started seeing unemployment rates tick up and home sales decline in 2006, the Western Slope and mountain resort-area counties didn’t follow the trend until 2008 or 2009, McMaken said. When unemployment increases and home values decline, he said, homeowners tend to have less money to pay their mortgages.
Foreclosure can look like a way out for people who bought at the height of the market and whose home values are under water.
Mesa County experienced its highest home sale prices in mid-2008, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency Home Price Index, which was two years behind Colorado’s other metropolitan counties. Compared to that peak, Mesa County home values have dropped 20 percent as of the third quarter of 2012. By comparison, home values have dropped by about 5.5 percent in metropolitan Denver between the 2006 peak there and the third quarter of 2012, and Fort Collins and Greeley home values are down 2.5 percent and 8 percent from their peaks. Boulder is down just half a percent from peak and Pueblo is down 14 percent.
The county experienced a drop in completed foreclosure sales in 2012 as a whole compared to 2011, with a year-end tally of 854 completed foreclosures in 2011 and 847 in 2012. Foreclosure filings increased, though, from 1,189 in 2011 to 1,246 in 2012.