Garfield County foreclosures drop in ’07 |

Garfield County foreclosures drop in ’07

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GARFIELD COUNTY ” Garfield County witnessed a slowdown of filed foreclosures during 2007 while the rest of Colorado, and much of the nation, saw dramatic increases.

But Garfield County public trustee Bob Slade said it wouldn’t surprise him if the foreclosures increased in numbers in 2008.

“I think our numbers will increase this year but it’s hard to tell,” he said. “The last time foreclosures were high statewide, (Garfield County’s) were low and then when the rest of the state pulled out of it we were a little behind.”

Garfield County recorded 81 filed foreclosures in 2007, down from 96 in 2006. The rest of the state saw a 40 percent increase from 2006 to 2007, up 11,400 filings and totaling 39,915, according to a report released Wednesday by the Colorado Division of Housing.

The report stated the statewide foreclosure rate was 1 for every 45 households. That figure was slightly down from 1 for every 58 households in 2006 statewide.

The highest foreclosure rates were found in the Denver metro area, Weld and Pueblo counties. Adams County had the highest foreclosure rate with one per every 23 households and Weld County had one per every 29 households.

Of the 81 filed foreclosures in Garfield County, Slade said that only 11 went through the foreclosure sale process, with five being redeemed by the owner. Of the remaining properties, 51 were withdrawn prior to the sale of the property by the owner, and nine filed in the fourth quarter of last year are still pending.

“Our numbers are completely opposite from the rest of the state,” Slade said. “We’ve been fortunate with the oil and gas industry; that’s kept things moving pretty well.”

Kathi Williams, co-chair of the Colorado Foreclosure Task Force and director of the Colorado Division of Housing, said the large increase in foreclosures along Colorado’s Front Range can be attributed to the “very high inventory of newly built homes.”

“In many cases in the Denver area, someone who can’t make his payments simply can’t sell his house fast enough to avoid that final foreclosure sale,” Williams stated in a press release. “In a high-demand market like Durango or Vail, you don’t have that problem.”

Slade agreed that homes usually sell quickly enough with the high demand in Garfield County to keep properties from going through the foreclosure sale.

But Slade said he’s already opened 20 foreclosures since Jan. 1. That number is a little higher than the first quarter of 2006, where there were 18 filed foreclosures. But it’s the higher unpaid balances on the properties that caught his attention. Usually, Slade said, the unpaid principal balances on foreclosures are around $100,000.

“Now I’m seeing unpaid balances on properties around $300,000 and $400,000,” Slade said.

Since 2003, foreclosure filings statewide have increased 190 percent. According to the CDH, last year state trustees reported 25,320 foreclosure sales, up from 6,258 just five years earlier.

Slade said Garfield County’s strong housing market may give buyers a false sense of security when purchasing a home they can’t afford, because they think it will be easy to unload the property before they get into trouble.

“People don’t want to get too used to the strong market we have right now,” he said. “In the early ’80s, when the oil shale pulled out, we don’t want to see that again but it could if people keep banking on the increasing value of properties. The market could change at any time.”

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