Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lawrence foreclosure rate moving upward

October 15, 2008

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When mortgage foreclosures began a steady increase a couple of years ago, the culprit was considered to be adjustable rate loans.

Now, at least in northeastern Kansas, there is a second wave of people facing foreclosure, according to a counselor with Housing and Credit Counseling Inc. Those facing foreclosure are the people who can't make their mortgage payments because increased expenses - such as for energy and food.

"You have some folks trying to decide whether to keep their mortgage current or their credit card payment current so that if they need their card to pay for gas and groceries they've got that open line of credit," said Robert Baker, counselor for the Lawrence area.

Whatever the reason, the rate of foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans in Lawrence was 0.40 percent in August, according to First American Corelogic, Sacramento, Calif., which collects data on national, state and local foreclosures and related information. That is up from 0.20 percent for the same month in 2007.

The number of outstanding foreclosures in Lawrence, including new and existing filings through August of this year was 36, Corelogic shows. Yet foreclosure activity in Lawrence was lower than the national foreclosure rate, which was 4.4 percent for August.

The mortgage delinquency rate in Lawrence also increased. Corelogic found that 1.3 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent in August compared to 0.9 percent for August 2007.

At the same time, house prices in August increased 1.1 percent from a year earlier. The medium price for a home in Lawrence is $170,000. Nationally, home prices fell 7.83 percent, according to Corelogic. The national median price for a house is $203,900.

Lawrence also saw single-family home sales decrease by 30.71 percent in August from August 2007. Nationally, sales were down 34 percent.

In recent months, mortgage problems have beset people who owe more on their house than they can sell it for, Baker said. In those cases, selling a house to get out of default might not be a good option, he said.

"Buyers have a lot more choices. There are probably a lot fewer buyers now," Baker said. "They can afford to be choosey."

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