Foreclosure filings increase in downvalley areas |

Foreclosure filings increase in downvalley areas

The number of foreclosure filings in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle and Garfield counties soared in 2011, suggesting that the effects of the recession haven’t passed.

There were 107 foreclosures filed by lenders in the Eagle County portion of the valley in 2011, according to research by attorney Garret Brandt, also a real estate agent with Chaffin Light Real Estate. That is a 26 percent increase over the 85 foreclosure filings in the same area in 2010.

The Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County includes part of Basalt; El Jebel; working-class subdivisions such as Sopris Village, Blue Lake and Summit Vista; and part of Missouri Heights.

In Garfield County, the number of foreclosure filings in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and all areas between soared 42 percent in 2011 over the prior year, Brandt’s research showed. There were 255 filings in 2011 compared with 179 the year before.

“I don’t know that it’s surprising it’s going up,” Brandt said of the foreclosure filings. “But it’s surprising it went up as much as it did. It just shows this recession has held on for a long time.”

In Pitkin County, foreclosure filings fell 22 percent to 113 last year from 144 the year before. Pitkin County includes a sliver of Basalt. The upper-valley real estate market has started recovering more quickly than the rest of the valley, so foreclosures in Pitkin County might be tapering off.

Banks and other lenders across the country have been swamped with foreclosures since 2009. Working through the process takes time, so the jump in foreclosure filings could be a reflection of banks finally getting to more cases in the Roaring Fork Valley rather than a worsening economic plight for some residents.

Foreclosure actions in Eagle County as a whole dipped slightly, from 618 in 2010 to 615 last year. There were 452 foreclosure filings in 2009.

In Garfield County as a whole, foreclosure filings were up 9 percent to 701 in 2011.

Foreclosure filings don’t always result in the lender seizing and selling the homes. Sometimes they approve a short sale by the owners. A short sale is for an amount less than what is owed on the property. In other cases, the borrowers work out a new payment plan or find a way to pay off the debt.

In the Eagle County portion of the Roaring Fork Valley in 2010, 37 of the 107 foreclosure filings resulted in a foreclosure sale, and there were 13 short sales, according to Brandt.

His research showed that banks reap benefits by approving short sales. When there is a bank-driven foreclosure, about 63 percent of the outstanding principal on a loan is recovered, Brandt said. That figure soars to 83 percent recovery of the loan amount when a short sale is approved.

Brandt said there didn’t appear to be any areas of the middle and lower valley that were hit particularly hard or spared from foreclosure actions. “They’re still all over the place,” he said.

However, in the Glenwood Springs and Carbondale areas, the average amount of the foreclosure filings was for $508,000. That suggests there are a lot of homes in lower price ranges targeted for foreclosure, not just more expensive luxury properties.

“It seems like the really big projects are all done with,” Brandt said, referring to the projects facing financial trouble. Now more foreclosure actions are affecting less expensive homes and condominiums, property owned by “average people,” Brandt said.

The foreclosures are like an unwelcome anchor on the valley real estate industry because it drags down prices for all properties. Sellers on the free market suffer the consequences. On the other hand, the low prices are spurring activity.

“At least now, I’ve seen investors take an interest in the midvalley,” Brandt said.

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