Colorado foreclosures down in first quarter

Date: May. 11th, 2009
Contact: Denver Business Journal

Colorado home foreclosure filings and sales both dropped in the first quarter from a year earlier, a positive sign for the state's economy, the Colorado Division of Housing said Monday.

New foreclosure filings, the first step in the foreclosure process, fell 8 percent to 10,745 from 11,634 in the first quarter of 2008. Completed foreclosures dropped 26 percent, to 4,354 from 5,899 in the same period a year earlier.

"We continue to be cautiously optimistic," said Kathi Williams, director of the Division of Housing, in a statement. "Unemployment continues to be a concern as do future resets on adjustable rate mortgages. Of course, other states have these same dynamics, but their foreclosure rates are going up while ours are stabilizing. That's a good sign for us."

However, on a quarter-to-quarter basis, new filings rose for the third consecutive quarter, and were up 13 percent from 9,481 in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The year-over-year drop in foreclosure filings can be attributed partly to the success of the two-year-old Colorado Foreclosure Hotline in helping nearly 10,000 households avoid foreclosure, state officials said.

Also, mortgage lenders have been much slower to foreclose on properties than in the past, and have put more effort into modifying mortgages or creating repayment plans.

The first quarter's declines mark the largest year-over-year decreases in completed foreclosures since the Division of Housing began collecting data in 2006.

Strong year-over-year foreclosure declines were seen in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Weld counties, continuing a trend that began in 2008.

On the other hand, El Paso County reported 6 percent growth in foreclosure filings, and 3 percent growth in completed foreclosures.

The state's highest foreclosure rates continue to be seen along the Front Range and in eastern Colorado. Adams County, with one foreclosure for every 238 households, had the highest rate among the metropolitan counties. It was followed by Weld County, with one filing for every 245 households, and Denver with one for every 352 households.

Meanwhile, Mesa County reported one foreclosure filing for every 1,260 households, and La Plata County reported one for every 944 households. Garfield County reported one for every 6,772 households.