Foreclosure filings surge in Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield counties |

Foreclosure filings surge in Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield counties

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – The number of foreclosure filings in the three counties of the Roaring Fork Valley is surging this year as some homeowners struggle with mortgage payments and some developers cannot meet creditors’ terms.

The surge is most dramatic in Garfield County, where 2009 has already seen the second highest number of foreclosure filings since 1980, according to chief deputy public trustee Bob Slade. There were 208 foreclosure filings throughout Garfield County as of Aug. 13. That tops the annual total for every year except 1985.

“This will be the greatest number of foreclosure sales since the oil shale bust,” Slade said.

Some property owners walked away from their houses when oil companies closed down their oil shale projects in the mid-1980s. The Garfield County Treasurer’s Office expects foreclosure openings to far exceed the 1985 level by the time this year is done, adding to the grim legacy of the 2009 Great Recession. Slade expects there to be 337 foreclosure openings this year.

Numbers are also surging in Eagle and Pitkin counties, according to the treasurers’ offices there.

“Is it worse? Certainly it’s worse,” said Karla Herridge, chief deputy public trustee in Eagle County. “We’re seeing a lot more activity.”

There have been 257 foreclosure openings countywide so far this year, far exceeding the total of 179 last year and 148 in 2007, she said.

On the other hand, there are roughly 38,000 real estate parcels in Eagle County, so the number affected by foreclosures is minuscule, Herridge said.

There are 22 active foreclosures in the Basalt area and another five in the El Jebel area, according to Herridge. Past statistics weren’t available for the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County.

In Pitkin County, foreclosures filings also have surged, but the number is still small compared to its neighbors. There have been 60 foreclosures started so far this year, compared to 35 in all of 2008 and 15 the prior year, according to the treasurer’s office.

Herridge said most of the foreclosure proceedings started – or opened, in the language of public trustees – have been for residential properties in Eagle County.

Slade said some multimillion-dollar foreclosures have been opened in Garfield County, some involving developers or other owners of large parcels of land. A chart prepared by his office shows that there have been more foreclosure openings in Carbondale than in Glenwood Springs, even though the latter has a larger population. The activity in Carbondale is close to the level in Rifle.

There are 41 foreclosure actions in the Carbondale area involving a total value of $19.69 million in property. There are 33 foreclosures in the Glenwood Springs area involving $19.87 million in property. There are 48 foreclosures in the Rifle area involving $12.64 million in property, according to the treasurer’s office.

The opening of a foreclosure doesn’t necessarily mean it will be repossessed by a bank or other lender. Many times the lender and borrower work out a repayment plan before the property is repossessed, Slade said. The foreclosures are then withdrawn. That happened in about 60 percent of the cases in Garfield County in 2008.

So far this year, 33 foreclosures have been withdrawn in Garfield County, and 10 have had deeds issued or have deeds pending, which signifies repossession. Another 165 foreclosures have sales pending.

The Colorado Division of Housing reported Thursday that foreclosure filings hit a record high in the second quarter of this year for residential property. The housing division said 12,135 homes entered the initial proceeding of bank repossession. Close to 5,000 foreclosures were completed.

Despite the surge in filings in the counties of the Roaring Fork Valley, the foreclosure rate was still considered low in all three, based on the number of occupied houses, the state report shows.

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