Western Slope foreclosure rates down
December 6, 2006
While by some reports say Colorado ranks first in foreclosures in the nation, the Western Slope is lagging far behind. Chief Deputy Public trustee Bob Slade told a gathering of the Western Chapter of the Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs Wednesday that “although we are the worst state in the Union” for foreclosure rates, Garfield County actually showed a decline this year over 2005.”I think the economy (in the county) has helped us buck the trend in the state,” Slade said.According to Slade, Garfield County saw 121 foreclosures last year. He projects 95-96 in 2006. The county’s foreclosures from 1980 to 2006 peaked in 1985 when 244 were recorded.Compared to the Front Range, the county is in good shape. The seven-county metropolitan Denver area had 17,782 foreclosures so far in 2006, compared to the previous high of 17,122 in 1988, in the wake of the energy bust.What drives foreclosures here is “over-extensions,” Slade said, and “100 percent lending,” now a common mortgage feature where a buyer borrows the whole selling price of a house and does not put any money down on it.Such a mortgage gives zero equity on a property, which can work against a borrower. If the value of their house declines over time, they must make payments on an amount greater than the value of the house.Homeowners on the West Slope are in a better position than their neighbors on the Front Range when it comes to the housing market, said Colorado Division of Housing spokesman Ryan McMaken.West Slope homeowners “can always sell … because there is so much demand.”A market flooded with new housing also factors into the foreclosure rate.Overall, McMaken said people fall into foreclosure because they make bad financial decisions. “People miscalculated how’d they be doing now when they bought their home,” he said. They got into risky mortgages because they thought they’d be able to make up the difference once the hoped-for raise came in.But the Colorado economy didn’t live up to expectations. Cuts in wages, loss of jobs and higher costs of living have all contributed to less spending power these days.Plus, people are spending ever more and saving less.”The saving rate continues to be zero,” McMaken said. People “spend like they’re making more money. Clearly, people are spent out.”The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.