Foreclosures Dip in Colorado

Colorado ranks in the top ten nationwide for foreclosures. But as Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus reports, the quarterly numbers from the State Division of Housing offer new hope.

Foreclosure fillings fell last quarter by 27%. Ryan McMaken is the chief economist at the Colorado Division of Housing.

McMaken: It’s quite a drop, even compared to all the other first quarters, so that we can forget about seasonal issues, the numbers are still down considerably from an average first quarter number.

McMacken says this may signal growing strength in the real estate market. Initially, the slow down in foreclosure fillings came from banks halting so-called robo-signing. Some lenders and got into legal trouble for approving foreclosures without even reading the documents. But McMaken says that’s probably not the cause for the slowdown now.

McMaken: The lenders and servicers have been telling us really since really November to expect a speed up on of this, that it would be a return to normal, but during that time we’ve only seen foreclosure filing continue to drop off.

The drop off has been led, primarily, by the Denver Metro Area. In Denver alone fillings fell a whopping 41%. But the bad news lies outside the metro area...

Peer: Especially on the western slope, within Garfield County, Mesa County, Delta.

That’s Shannon Peer with Brothers Redevelopment a non profit that runs the state’s foreclosure hotline. He says the call volume on the Western Slope is high...where most counties saw double digit increases in foreclosure fillings last quarter. The recession--and now it’s fallout--hit the western slope later than the rest of the state.

Peer says the number of calls statewide from people seeking foreclosure help has been erratic.

Peer: We go from one month to having 2,400 calls, to another month were it’s 1600 and then back up to 22-2,300 calls and in the past it’s not fluctuated that much in that short of a period of time.

Peer cautions that there won’t be a broad-based recovery in the housing market until unemployment falls. Colorado’s unemployment is higher than the national rate.

Meanwhile, Ryan McMaken with the state Division of Housing says we still need to put the recent positive numbers--at least for the metro area--in context.

McMaken: The total numbers are still more than double what they were compared to 2003, 2004, and 2005.

But he believes there’s reason to hope that Colorado may be turning a corner.

[Photo courtesy of flickr user thinkpanama]