Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2011-08-17 "Vallejo still among top U.S. cities with home foreclosures" by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
Solano County has had among the country's highest foreclosure rates since the housing crises began about five years ago, and still hasn't shaken that dubious distinction.
Last month, one of every 140 housing units here faced foreclosure, making this the fourth hardest hit area in the country, after Las Vegas, Stockton and Modesto, according to RealtyTrac's July report.
This compares to the statewide foreclosure rate showing one of out of every 239 homes is in some stage of foreclosure -- a 4 percent increase over last month, but a 16 percent drop from last year. Nationally, the foreclosure rate has fallen 4 percent since June and 35 percent since last year.
Statewide, the Vallejo area ranked third worst for foreclosures, after Stockton and Modesto.
Foreclosures in the Vallejo-Fairfield metro area jumped by a third since last month, while most other areas either dropped or rose only slightly, RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist said this week.
Blomquist said highs and lows in monthly foreclosure rates are not rare, though they're most common in the areas hardest hit by the crisis.
"The Vallejo area has for the past few years, been consistently in the top 10 worst of the 211 areas we track, though not always in the top five, like this," Blomquist said.
The Vallejo-Fairfield area was 10th worst nationally for foreclosures for all of 2010, he said. It was 11th worst in 2009 and seventh worst the year before that.
Statewide, as foreclosures started rising in October 2006, Solano County ranked second only to Stanislaus County, according to RealtyTrac.
In July, as bad as Vallejo's foreclosure rate was, it was better than the second-ranked Stockton area, in San Joaquin County, where foreclosures were up 57 percent in July. Though like Solano, that figure was down from a year ago, one in every 124 homes in the Stockton area were in foreclosure last month. Two areas in Florida also had big increases in foreclosures last month, Blomquist said.
Foreclosures were up 39 percent in San Francisco County last month over June, placing it 28th nationally. They were up 17 percent in Contra Costa County and 15 percent in Alameda County.
"We're seeing something of a roller coaster pattern in Solano County, with a dramatic up month followed by a deep drop," Blomquist said. "Other markets are also seeing surges and declines. I wouldn't be surprised to see a reversal in the area next month."
Blomquist said he attributes the situation in part to the mortgage industry trying to regain its footing after being caught in the so-called "robo-signing" debacle.
"I honestly think it's a situation where the fractured foreclosure process right now, with lenders accused of sloppy paperwork and adjustments they're making, I think this has contributed to the volatile pattern," he said. "Other outside influences, like investigations by attorneys general trying to create consistency in foreclosure procedures and state and federal foreclosure prevention programs, also are making an impact."
Blomquist said that while the worst of the foreclosure crisis is behind us, any kind of normalcy is years away.
"We estimate no normalcy in foreclosure levels until 2014 because of the backlog of inventory and the lack of big improvement in economic conditions," he said. "Even so, we have seen in Solano County and elsewhere that we're past the peak and the numbers should start to come down."

At a glance -
In Solano County last month, more than 4,600 homes were in some stage of foreclosure and those that sold, went for an average of nearly $200,500. Just more than 1,000 homes here received foreclosure notices in July.
By city:
* Vallejo -- 418
* Fairfield -- 231
* Vacaville -- 197
* Suisun City -- 91
* Benicia -- 74
* Dixon -- 42
* Rio Vista -- 23

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