Foreclosures down in Jeffco for third straight year

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By Ramsey Scott

Jeffco once again saw an improvement in its housing market last year as foreclosures decreased for a third year in a row in the county.

In 2012, Jeffco had 2,650 foreclosure actions initiated, according to a recent report from the county’s public trustee. That number was down 206 from 2011 and 1,377 from 2009, when 4,027 homes saw the foreclosure process start, a record number for Jeffco coming at the height of the foreclosure crisis.

"If you compare our 4,000 to what was going on in other counties, it was not nearly as bad," said Jeffco Commissioner Faye Griffin.

Adams County fared much worse than Jeffco during the economic crisis. Between 2007 and 2009, during the height of foreclosures in both counties, Jeffco saw 6,113 fewer foreclosures start.

The reason is that, unlike Adams County, Jeffco was blessed with an older, more stable housing market, said Margaret Chapman, Jeffco's public trustee.

"Jefferson County is an old, stable, more generally, not affluent but comfortable (market)," Chapman said. "It's a different world in Jefferson County than say Adams County, where they were throwing up acres and acres and acres of houses just like that. At one point, the public trustee up there said she thought she foreclosed on everything but her home and the courthouse. It was that grim up there."

Along with a decrease in foreclosures in the county, Jeffco also saw an increase in the number of deeds of trust released by the public trustee's office, with 38,619 released. Deeds of trust are released when a piece of property is sold or refinanced. According to Chapman, a majority of those released were due to homes being refinanced to take advantage of lower interest rates on mortgages.

Yet there was also good news for home sales in the county.

Chapman, in her report to the Jeffco commissioners, said home sales were steadily improving, and she believes there is a pent-up demand for housing.
She cited a survey by Redfin, a Seattle-based national real estate broker, which gauged public opinion on the housing market. A majority of those surveyed said they believe housing prices will continue to rise this year.

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext.22.