Foreclosures drop in October in Clark County

Decrease contrasts with nation as a whole, which saw a slight increase

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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The number of homes in foreclosure in Clark County and across Washington dwindled further in October, while the nation as a whole experienced a slight increase due to the judicial process used in many states.

It was the fifth month in a row that year-over-year foreclosures declined in Clark County, according to RealtyTrac Inc. The California-based tracking firm tallied 151 foreclosures in Clark County last month, down about 11 percent from September and down 34 percent from October 2012. With national numbers on the rise, some interpret the local drop in foreclosures as a sign the worst effects of the housing crisis are winding down here.

"We're starting to clear our backlog out and that's why we're performing a little bit differently than the other states are," said Glenn Crellin, associate director of research at the University of Washington's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in Seattle.

With 2,306 households in some stage of foreclosure statewide, Washington's foreclosure rate declined 25 percent from September and dropped 27 percent from October 2012.

Crellin attributed the shrinking foreclosure numbers to the fact that Washington is among states that do not require a lengthy judicial process in which the lender is required to file and win a lawsuit for the right to foreclose.

"The judicial foreclosure states have an outstandingly large backlog of foreclosures in the process," he said.

Nationwide, there were a total of 30,023 scheduled judicial foreclosure auctions in October, representing a 10 percent increase from the previous month and a 7 percent increase from a year ago. It was the 16th consecutive month showing a year-over-year increase in judicial foreclosure auctions from a year earlier.

Oregon, which is among the nation's 22 states with a court system foreclosure process, had a total 3,662 homes in foreclosure in October, a 35 percent decline from the same month last year, according to RealtyTrac. However, Oregon is expected to experience a rising backlog of foreclosures, as more homes with delinquent mortgages get tangled up in the system, said Kevin Gillette, executive director of the Community Housing Resource Center in Vancouver, one of the area's only centers that offers foreclosure counseling.

"There's a bubble there (in Oregon) that's just starting to move through the system," he said.