Foreclosure rates down in Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Foreclosure rates down in Routt County







— Standing on the steps just inside the Routt County Courthouse, county Treasurer and Public Trustee Brita Horn looks over the paperwork for two homes undergoing foreclosure.

Horn said she views herself as a conduit between banks and the people of Routt County facing the prospect of losing their homes.

"I’m here for Routt County," said Horn, who’s facilitated 100 foreclosure sales since taking her post in December 2012.

She said she missed the worst of the Great Recession’s effect on homeowners by the time she took the job, but she has witnessed the falling foreclosure rate firsthand.

In 2014, she anticipates just 100 homes will begin the foreclosure process, down from 134 in 2013, 233 in 2012 and 306 in 2011.

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"The numbers are going down," Horn said.

Of those 100 homes, some owners will pull themselves out of the process by borrowing money from family and friends or somehow finding a way to catch up on payments. For others, the process will continue, and ultimately may lead to a quick sale of their home by Horn on the front steps of the Routt County Courthouse.

During Wednesday’s sale, Horn tried to auction off two homes — a four-bedroom, four-bath home on East Maple Street near Steamboat Springs High School and a three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath on nearly 19 acres off Routt County Road 14.

Horn said the sales usually are attended by a few curious home flippers and sometimes by the family facing the foreclosure themselves.

The homes Wednesday were bid on by banks at $346,503 for the East Maple Street home and $709,073 for the Routt County Road home, and Horn facilitated an auction that would sell off the houses for as little as a dollar more than the initial bank bid.

One home flipper took interest in the East Maple Street house, bidding a dollar more, but he took back his offer just 10 minutes after the auction.

Horn said that she often hears from upset homeowners seeking information just before auctions, and she has learned to communicate well with them.

By the time a foreclosure reaches Horn, homeowners have anticipated it for a long time.

"They’ve had years of letters and phone calls and trying to work with the bank," Horn said. "But they’ll be fine after all this."

So far in 2014, 18 homes entered the foreclosure process during the first quarter, and another 17 in the second. Horn said that number will reach nearly 50 by the beginning of September, and 100 by the year’s end.

Horn said she expects more foreclosures in the second half of 2014, but she still thinks the annual number is going down.

The foreclosure rate has dropped dramatically throughout the past few years.

"In the last two years, if you look at those numbers, they’re starting to go down," Horn said.

In the second quarter of 2014, the 17 homes that have entered foreclosure is down from 27 in 2013, 63 in 2012 and 62 in 2011.

Only 13 sales were held in the second quarter of 2014, down from 20 in the second quarter of 2013, 25 in 2012 and 60 in 2011.

Horn thinks that fewer foreclosures means fewer empty homes in the area, prompting new building and boosting the construction sector.

"It’s a sign that we’re getting a steady economy," Horn said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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