Larimer County foreclosure filings down sales up

Date: May. 13th, 2010
Contact: David Young

Larimer County continues to fare better than much of the state when it comes to foreclosures thanks to a healthy real estate industry and jobs, experts say.

New data released by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing shows Larimer County's year-over-year foreclosure filings are down, while sales are up for the first quarter of 2010.  Since the first quarter of 2009, foreclosure filings have declined in Larimer County, dropping 15.1 percent, which is the highest drop in the state. At the same time foreclosure sales have increased year-over-year by 55.1 percent.

Thursday in a phone interview, Ryan McMaken, a spokesperson for the Division of Housing, said that the data this quarter is skewed by a national moratorium on processing foreclosures put in place in late 2008 and early 2009. Foreclosure sales during the first quarter of 2009 fell significantly to a total of 4,354.

In late 2008, several national mortgage servicers, with major investors like Fannie Mae, temporarily slowed or halted the processing of foreclosures to allow for new loss mitigation policies to be put in place. Consequently, few foreclosures proceeded to final sale during the first quarter of 2009, driving down foreclosure sales totals for the period. Comparing the first quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010, foreclosure sales were 53.6 percent higher in 2010.

“Looking quarter to quarter, there’s quite a bit of stability in foreclosure activity right now,” McMaken, said. “Since 2008, quarterly totals have not changed very much if we account for events like the moratorium. But, while foreclosure activity isn’t increasing much, it’s not going away either.”

Last summer, Larimer County experienced a spike in foreclosure filings, which peaked around 550. With a six to eight month lag time from filing to sale, McMaken said the more than 50 percent foreclosure sales now are a result of last year's jump.

Billie Jo Downing, a Realtor with ReMax Action in Loveland and a member of the Foreclosure Prevention Task Force attributes last year's jump to the moratorium. A backlog of people in homes that had not paid their mortgage for a year was unleashed as the government stalled the inventible rush of filling now translating to sales.  Overall Larimer County has is following the general state's trend. Across Colorado new foreclosures filings are up 6 percent.

New foreclosure filings rose to 11,136 in Colorado during 2010’s first quarter, rising 6 percent over 2009’s first-quarter total of 10,509. Compared to 2008’s first-quarter total of 11,634, first-quarter filings this year were down 4.3 percent. According to a report released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing, 2010’s first quarter filings were down 1.3 percent compared to 2009’s fourth-quarter total of 11,282.

Locally, Downing and Sara Gilbert of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northern Colorado said the future of foreclosures in Larimer County is contingent on jobs.

Gilbert said 53 percent of her housing and mortgage counseling clients overall in 2009 said that their difficulty with their mortgage was related to a job loss or reduced income. For January to now, that number has increased to 56 percent.

Job loss is the most prominent reason for difficulty in making mortgage payments for clients, Gilbert noted.

“We’ve seen only growth in demand for housing counseling and the hotline counselors have been see-ing more and more clients as time goes on,” said Stephanie Riggi, manager of the Foreclosure Hotline Call Center. “During the first quarter of 2010 alone, 2,473 homeowners worked with housing counselors and avoided foreclosure either through short sales, loan modifications or other strategies.”