County foreclosure wave continues into 2012
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – It’s early, but the wave of foreclosures that has hit the county the past few years shows no signs of breaking.
Through March 10, there were 102 new foreclosure filings at the Eagle County Public Trustee’s Office. There were 615 filings in 2011 and 618 in 2010. That was the year foreclosures really hit in Eagle County. There were 452 filings in 2009 and just 179 in 2008.
Foreclosures filed in 2010 and 2011 were the most on record. The previous high – 599 filings – came in 1987.
But a foreclosure filing doesn’t equate to a lost home. In fact, a filing – usually done when a homeowner is more than 90 days delinquent on payments – is just the first step in a long process. If that process carries through to the end, it results in the property’s sale, usually to the lender.
“That’s the end – people lost their property,” said Carla Herridge, of the Eagle County Public Trustee’s Office.
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And the number of people losing their homes is climbing in Eagle County. There were 334 foreclosure sales in 2011, more than half the total filings. There were 275 sales in 2010 and 158 in 2009. The most recent figures available from the state of Colorado show sales increased by more than 53 percent in the first half of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010.
Those sales, though, don’t necessarily represent foreclosures begun in a given year. Herridge said it can take as long as 18 months for a foreclosure filing to end up in a sale, and that doesn’t count property owners who file for bankruptcy, which puts the process on hold for anywhere between a few months and several years.
Herridge said one unit – a time share – took more than five years to go from first filing to final sale thanks to a drawn-out bankruptcy case. Most bankruptcies, though, delay foreclosures just a matter of months, Herridge said.
County officials can track most foreclosure filings by ZIP code – so far this year, Gypsum and Avon have the most filings – but a search of the county’s towns – along with Wolcott and Edwards – turned up just 93 of the 102 foreclosures started this year.
County Treasurer Karen Sheaffer – who is also the public trustee – said county officials are trying to find all of the property subject to foreclosure filings. In some cases, Sheaffer said, a property doesn’t have a ZIP code associated with it, which complicates finding the actual location of some parcels.
Herridge said finding exactly where all the foreclosure filings are is a bit more difficult than it sounds, given the limited number of people available for the work.
And foreclosures around the state have made numbers difficult to come by, except for the state’s most-populous counties, which state officials track monthly. With the exception of Mesa County, all of the areas providing tracking numbers are on the Front Range, a far different market than mountain-resort counties.
Still, foreclosure-filing numbers for Boulder and Douglas counties – two of the more affluent Front Range markets – seem to be headed down in the first two months of the year.
Boulder County foreclosure filings dropped 23.7 percent in January and February of this year compared with the first two months of 2011. Filings in Douglas County fell a bit more – 24.9 percent.
Foreclosure sales in Boulder and Douglas counties also fell, by 16.3 percent and 30.8 percent, respectively.
Both filings and sales in the state’s 12 largest counties are at a five-year low. But the change in the trends in the big counties hasn’t yet come to Eagle County. Another 13 names appeared on the county’s March 12 presale list.
“It’s interesting to see the sales numbers – that’s the worst for people, and they seem to be going up a little,” she said.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.