Foreclosures in Pitkin County, area fall in first quarter |

Foreclosures in Pitkin County, area fall in first quarter

ASPEN – The number of foreclosures in Pitkin County and the Roaring Fork Valley portions of Eagle and Garfield counties dropped during the first quarter of this year after an active 2011.

There were 23 foreclosures in Pitkin County in January, February and March compared with 28 for the same period in 2011, according to a report prepared by Garret Brandt, a real estate agent with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty and a land-use attorney.

Pitkin County had a record number of foreclosures at 144 for all of 2010. That dipped last year to 113, but 2011 was the second-highest year for foreclosures in modern times. The total dollar value of the foreclosed properties in Pitkin County last year was $116.81 million, Brandt’s report showed.

Brandt’s research showed that there were 13 foreclosures in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County, a decrease of 38 percent from the 21 the year before. The Basalt and El Jebel areas experienced a record number of foreclosures in 2011 with 107. The foreclosed properties had a total value of $64.56 million.

From Carbondale to Glenwood Springs and the area of Garfield County between the towns, foreclosures are down 20 percent for the first quarter of the year, according to Brandt’s report. There were 55 foreclosures this year compared with 69 in the first quarter of 2011.

There were a record number of foreclosures in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Garfield County last year. There were 255 foreclosures on properties with a total value of $129.67, Brandt reported.

The foreclosures have had a huge influence on the midvalley and downvalley real estate markets since the second quarter of 2009, when the Roaring Fork Valley started feeling the pinch of the recession. Real estate agents say the high number of foreclosures and “short sales” by sellers desperate to unload their homes have driven down prices and driven up the number of sales.

There are an incredible number of properties under contract now between Basalt and Carbondale and areas between, such as Missouri Heights, said Craig Rathbun, president and managing partner of the Fleisher Co. In typical times, 2 or 3 percent of the homes listed for sale are under contract for purchase during the first quarter, Rathbun said. Right now, 26 percent of the homes listed for sale in that area are under contract, he said.

In “good times,” prior to the recession, it was considered a very active market if 6 to 10 percent of listed properties were under contract, according to Rathbun.

His real estate company has offices from Aspen to Rifle and has sold dozens of foreclosed homes and even more short-sale homes for national lenders. One recent listing in Carbondale is indicative of the market right now, he said. A national lender had the Fleisher Co. list a house on Surrey Road for $330,000, which was lower than Rathbun’s crew thought it was worth.

“Within seven days we had 19 offers, of which the highest was $425,000,” Rathbun said. Four offers were above $400,000. None were below the listing price of $330,000.

The sale is scheduled to close later this month. An interesting tidbit from that listing was that all 19 parties that made offers had pre-approval from a lender and proved that they had the funds to close. That shows there are buyers in the valley with money in hand and credit, Rathbun said. Therefore, the surge in real estate activity seems likely to continue.

If the current level of sales activity continues, the existing inventory will be gone by the end of the year. The activity might entice additional people to put their homes on the market, especially if prices creep up.

“There’s a lot of speculation of how much shadow inventory there really is,” said Rathbun, referring to people who want to sell but kept their houses off the market until prices improved.

There are differing opinions in the real estate community on whether the pace of foreclosures will slow this year. Rathbun expects a decline. Nevertheless, what the valley is experiencing is a “resetting of the marketplace,” in part because of the foreclosures that have occurred, he said. The quicker the resetting is complete, the quicker prices will stabilize. That’s already happened in some price segments of the midvalley market.

“The trends are our friends right now,” Rathbun said.

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