Property foreclosures rare in Spokane County


Spokane County had one of the lowest foreclosure rates in the United States for the first half of 2009, as the pace slowed significantly compared with last year, according to RealtyTrac Inc., an online marketplace for foreclosed properties.

Out of 203 communities with populations greater than 200,000, Spokane ranked 187th in foreclosures, with a notice of default, trustee sale or other type of foreclosure notice going out to the owners of 332 properties from January through June. A notice went to one out of every 587 properties, or less than 0.2 percent of the total.

The numbers are down 60 percent from the first six months of 2008 and down 41 percent from the second half of last year.

Don Walker, president and manager of Heritage Northwest Home Mortgage, said the results do not necessarily mean the worst has passed.

“We are going to have some further impacts,” he said, because economic forces affecting other markets have not yet fully registered on Spokane.

He said inventory may be down slightly, but that’s mostly because many would-be sellers know prices have declined 11 percent in the past year. That pushes appraisals lower, as do properties that banks own and want to sell, he said.The squeeze makes getting loans approved tougher, Walker said.

In Kootenai County, meanwhile, 297 properties were tagged with foreclosure paperwork. One of every 82 properties received a notice, up 130 percent from the first half of 2008 and 52 percent from the second half.

The 1.2 percent rate of foreclosure matched the national rate.

“That county was extreme on the one side, and it’s extreme again,” said Walker, referring to steep price appreciation in Kootenai County a few years ago.

The county is too small to be included in the survey of large markets, but the numbers would have put the county somewhere between No. 60 Portland, with a 1.31 percent rate of foreclosure, and No. 64 Salem at 1.18 percent.

Boise had the worst numbers among Northwest communities. With more than 5,200 properties receiving notices, or one out of every 45, the area ranked 32nd. Among other Washington communities, Seattle-Tacoma ranked 76th, Olympia 87th, Bremerton 127th, Yakima 166th and the Tri-Cities 199th.

Nationally, more than 1.5 million properties received some type of notice. The numbers rose almost 15 percent compared with the first half of 2008 and 9.5 percent compared with the second half of the year.

Las Vegas continued to top the list, with one out of every 13 homes in trouble. Burlington, Vt., with only one home in 8,000 receiving a foreclosure notice, was at the bottom.

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