Foreclosures decline in Clark County

Local experts hope area will dodge surge expected across U.S.

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

Clark County foreclosures

June

2011 — 248

2010 — 384

2009 — 500

2008 — 258

2007 — 132

Source: RealtyTrac Inc.

The number of homes in foreclosure declined across the state and the nation in June, according to a national report issued Thursday.

And the rate of foreclosure dropped even more rapidly in Clark County, which fell to the fifth-highest rate of foreclosure among Washington’s 39 counties last month, down from second-highest in May. National forecasters expect another wave of foreclosures to send totals higher throughout the United States in the coming months.

Mike Lamb, an associate broker with Windermere Real Estate/Stellar Group in Vancouver, believes Clark County may avoid another foreclosure surge. He sees recovery ahead for the county’s foreclosure market, similar to other markets that entered the housing slump early on, Lamb said.

“This kind of a situation has a life span like a cold or the flu and it has to run its course,” Lamb said. “We got the cold a lot sooner than other people, so it’s predictable that we should be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel by now.”

There were 248 households in some stage of foreclosure in Clark County in June, down 24.6 percent from 329 foreclosures in May and down 35.4 percent from June 2010, according to California-based RealtyTrac Inc.’s June foreclosure report.

One out of every 659 households are affected by foreclosure in Clark County. Snohomish County had the highest rate of foreclosure in the state, with one out of every 351 homes in foreclosure, followed by King, Pierce and Pacific counties.

Across the nation, foreclosures fell 29 percent, with one out of every 584 houses in foreclosure in June.

Multiple offers

RealtyTrac’s chief executive officer, James Saccacio, said processing delays are at least partly responsible for the decline in national foreclosures. He does not expect the trend to continue.

“It would be nice to report that foreclosure activity is dropping as a result of improvements in the economy,” he said. “Unfortunately, with unemployment rates inching back up, consumer confidence weak and home sales and prices continuing to languish, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

The difference in Clark County appears to be that real estate investors have started making more multiple offers on houses. Listings are taking less time to sell, said Scott Anthony, a broker in charge of the real estate owned division of Windermere Real Estate Stellar Group in Vancouver.

“I do see we’re on the low level of the plateau,” said Anthony, who markets and sells houses that are owned by the bank after a foreclosure action.

He also said more banks are beginning to work with struggling homeowners, an aboutface from 2010, when banks were accused of mishandling foreclosures with rubber-stamp “robo signing.”

That revelation launched investigations by all 50 state attorneys general, causing banks to slow down the foreclosure process.

Anthony expects foreclosures to continue to drop in Clark County, as more bank programs evolve to forgive debt and accept short sales, in which the homeowner sells for less than the borrower owes on the mortgage.

“Certainly by mid next year, we should start seeing some increase in values,” Anthony said.