El Paso County foreclosure filings fall 33%

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New foreclosure filings and foreclosure sales at auction continued to fall in May across the state and in El Paso County, according to a Colorado Department of Housing report released today.

While the state saw a 24 percent decline in May foreclosure filings year over year, El Paso County had a 32.5 percent drop.

Foreclosure sales at auction dropped by 12.2 percent in El Paso County and by 20 percent statewide.

“El Paso County doesn’t really stick out much at all in these numbers,” said Ryan McMaken spokesman for the division of housing. “It could be that El Paso County will follow the state.”

The county did seem to experience a higher foreclosure rate and a greater volume of foreclosures than the rest of the state at the end of 2010, but the numbers appear to be evening out now and keeping up with state trends, McMaken said.

Foreclosure sales at auction are at a 26-month low and, statewide, new filings are the lowest they’ve been in four years, according to McMaken’s report.

“But just because these numbers are going down, it doesn’t mean the inventory of foreclosures is going away,” McMaken said.

Some experts have predicted that because of slow-moving foreclosure processes, impeded by new banking regulations designed to protect homeowners, that it will take another three years to get through all of the homes at risk of going into foreclosure, McMaken said.

He said he believes the slow trickle of foreclosures has prevented a glut of foreclosures from flooding the market and flooring home sales prices, though sales prices have slipped.

The median home price for El Paso and Teller Counties fell from $189,130 in May of 2010 to $185,000 this May, according to statistics released by the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors last week.

“We are talking about pretty mild declines here,” McMaken said. “Something like a 2 to 2.5 percent decline each month. Clearly there’s still some demand.”

McMaken said that while banks are processing foreclosures more slowly these days than they were a year ago, it’s not likely the only reason for a slowdown in new foreclosure filings and foreclosure sales.

“We are getting farther and farther out from the time when they were making the making risky loans to risky people,” McMaken said.

Most of the five-year interest-only mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages were made in the height of the real estate boom in 2006 and 2007. Now coming up on five years from the start of those lending practices, most of the loans have or are now adjusting.

“A lot of those loans that were written too skinny, they’re already closed,” McMaken said.