The national association of Wells Fargo Bank sold this 4,000-square-foot home in the neighborhood of Burgess Creek Road for $859,900 in October. It previously sold for $1.66 million in 2007.

Photo by Tom Ross

The national association of Wells Fargo Bank sold this 4,000-square-foot home in the neighborhood of Burgess Creek Road for $859,900 in October. It previously sold for $1.66 million in 2007.

Foreclosure numbers for Routt County follow downward trend

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— The latest numbers from the Routt County Public Trustee's Office show that the pace of new foreclosure filings here is declining at a significantly faster rate than they are statewide.

Public Trustee Jeanne Whiddon said Friday that if the current trend holds up, new foreclosures could be down 33 percent from 2011 by the end of the year. That would translate to a drop of 76 new foreclosures, from 306 to 230.

The Denver Post reported this week that statewide, new filings were down 11.8 percent in the third quarter, resulting in a 2.2 overall decline in the first nine months of the year.

The latest data surprised even Whiddon, who was concerned in July when new filings were uncharacteristically high. July is typically a quiet month for new filings, and after seeing the first six months of the year produce about 20 new foreclosure filings each month, the July numbers ballooned to 37.

“I thought, ‘Oh no, where are we headed?’” Whiddon said Friday.

As of Aug. 29, year-to-date filings stood at 166, leading Whiddon to project that 2012 would wind up with 250 new foreclosures. But the trend reversed itself.

The succeeding two months of September and October produced just 25 new foreclosures combined.

“I’m revising my number down right now,” Whiddon said. “If things continue like this,” the year could end up at 230 new filings.

That’s still a big number for a county that saw 40 to 50 annually for most of Whiddon’s 14 years in the job (she’ll step down at the end of November and be replaced by Brita Horn).

The reduced rate at which new foreclosures are entering the county process may be showing up in the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service.

Realtor Doug Labor, of Buyer's Resource Real Estate, said Friday that there are 25 actively listed bank-owned residential properties on the market with 22 more under contract with sales pending. On Dec. 2, 2011, the number of active bank-owned homes on the market was 44. That’s a sign that the local market is working its way through foreclosed properties, Labor said.

He was most impressed by the ratio of listings to pending bank-owned sales (the latter are not counted as active), with listings barely staying ahead of pending contracts.

“That’s pretty impressive. I would have expected it to be more like two-thirds active to one-third pending,” Labor said.

Looking more closely at categories of bank-owned properties can be revealing, Labor said. Of the 25 active listings this week, just two were condominiums. That number was 10 on Dec. 2, 2011, Labor said, suggesting that people in the market for distressed condos late this fall will have to go to the original owner rather than a bank listing to find the property they want.

The decline in new foreclosures does not necessarily translate to the number of distressed properties in the market.

Whiddon said she is sensing that national banks, which have a large inventory of overdue mortgages, are more amenable to working out loan modifications and short sales for property owners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments.

Whiddon said she is talking with a growing number of Realtors representing distressed properties whose owners become dismayed when they receive notice of a foreclosure filing just as they come close to working out a loan modification or terms of a short sale. She said she can’t offer any promises, but she attempts to reassure people that the banks typically go ahead with a foreclosure filing even when they are looking ahead to a market sale. The reason is to be prepared to move on to a foreclosure if necessary and avoid carrying the property for another 90 days while they go through that process, Whiddon said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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