No Slowdown in Southwest Foreclosures

Don't expect foreclosure filings in the Southwest to slow anytime soon. Just one month into the first quarter of 2007, already 50,404 foreclosure filings have been reported, more than half the 94,631 filings for the region in the entire first quarter of 2006.

That's according to numbers from Foreclosure.com, a Sacramento, Calif.-based real estate investment advisory firm, which has been analyzing housing markets since 1992.

The region also continues to lead the nation in foreclosures, accounting for almost half the total 103,075 filings reported nationally last month. That's on top of the nearly one million filings reported all of last year in the U.S.

"The numbers sound bleak. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel," said Alexis McGee, president of the Foreclosure.com. "Though California (with 25,107 filings), Texas (10,296) and Colorado (4,968) continue to be among the top five states nationally in foreclosure filings, other areas in the region showed some improvement. In Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma and Arkansas, the numbers of filings actually are flat to down. And even in Colorado where filings typically have gone through the roof, thus far this quarter, the state's filing are less than a third of the total 16,006 for the entire first quarter 2006."

"As I've said before, the worst is over," added Ms. McGee. "But we're not through yet with the aftereffects of all the people who used creative financing to buy homes beyond their means. As home prices have stagnated, equity eroded and mortgage payments adjusted higher, these homeowners have little other option to foreclosure."

Overall nationally, though, the economic news is good," she said. "Interest rates remain low. Housing inventories are dropping and new home starts slowing. Just last week, the National Association of Realtors reported gains across the board in their Pending Home Sales Index, a measure of existing-home sales. That's yet another indicator that markets are stabilizing. We should see things pick up in the second half of the year."

On another bright note, the American dream is alive and well, she added. The homeownership rate in the U.S. is steady at around 69%, according to fourth-quarter numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Unfortunately, foreclosure hit home for thousands more Midwesterners in January, according to Foreclosure.com. Fueled by job cuts and layoffs in major manufacturing metropolitan areas, the region reported 18,207 foreclosure filings in January, with Illinois, Ohio and Michigan leading the way.

Cook County, Ill., accounted for well more than half of that state's 5,849 foreclosure filings. Lucas County, Ohio, which includes Toledo and Bowling Green, accounted for nearly half that state's 3,898 filings. And in Michigan where the auto industry is king, Wayne County, which includes Detroit, accounted for more than half of all that state's 3,484 foreclosure filings for the month. (c) 2007 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com