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July 24, 2012
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Vail Valley foreclosures may be leveling off

EAGLE COUNTY - Seventy-four Eagle County homes are scheduled to be sold at the July 25 foreclosure auction, but almost none of them will be.

Lenders have postponed 64 of those foreclosure sales. Only four are scheduled to be sold Wednesday. Some borrowers are wading through loan modifications, others are working through short sales. Banks have all kinds of reasons for postponing a foreclosure sale, said Mike Glass with Alpine Bank in Vail.

But one reason stands above most others: While they're certain it's a very nice house, the bankers really don't want it.

"Generally, banks are not in the business of owning houses. That was never part of the plan when they originated the loan," Glass said.

Every single borrower has a story and some are heartbreaking. Others, not so much.

Some will move heaven and earth to stay in their homes.

"It's their whole world, their home in their neighborhood. It's terribly emotional," Glass said. "All the local banks work as hard as possible to keep people in their homes."

Some borrowers are under water on their home loans and are throwing up their hands. They stop making the payments, and live there as long as possible, Glass said.

Then there are some that just make you scratch your head.

Like the guy who called the Eagle County Public Trustees office Tuesday morning. He had filed bankruptcy after his house went into foreclosure, which stops the foreclosure process.

The bankruptcy was terminated, but his lender has refused to take the property back.

He wants to walk away from the property, but the lender doesn't seem ready to say good-bye.

"Technically it's still his, but the bank won't take the keys back," said Karla Herridge, Eagle County's Public Trustee.

Most foreclosures are postponed by lenders, not borrowers, Herridge said.

Some are borrowers working with lenders toward some sort of solution.

Herridge's phone rings constantly and every story is heartbreaking. They all ask the same questions and they're looking for the same answers.

"They all want the same thing - 'When is this going to be done?'" Herridge said.

Up to a year, it turns out.

Banks have some flexibility and can postpone a foreclosure up to 12 months from the initial foreclosure sale date, then they have to refile. That starts the timeline all over, Glass said.

"The bank might be buying some additional time to work something out in the best interests of both the banks and the borrowers," Glass said.

But if the borrower isn't paying on the note, then foreclosure is about the last tool a bank has.

"At some point, the bank has to foreclose," Glass said.

It's a big, financial circle and most of us are in it somehow.

The bank has investors who expect a prudent return.

"People's pensions are tied up in the Bank of America that's foreclosing on them. If Bank of America doesn't deal with this, you might get a 2 percent return instead of the 6 percent return you were expecting," Glass said. "It comes full circle."

Eagle County's foreclosure rate hasn't changed much from last year, and neither has the geography.

Gypsum, Eagle and Avon still have the valley's largest foreclosure numbers.

RealtyTrac's nationwide database of foreclosure, auction and bank owned homes saw May's national foreclosure numbers up 9 percent to 205,990 properties.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Aug 2, 2012 09:55AM Published Jul 24, 2012 06:28PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.