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Foreclosure rates diverge when crossing state line

Foreclosures in Spokane County fell in 2009 compared with the previous two years, but the toll ballooned in Kootenai County, according to RealtyTrac, which released its statistics today.

The 979 properties in Spokane County subject to a foreclosure notice represented a 15 percent decrease from 2008, and a 3 percent dip from 2007 figures, says RealtyTrac, the operator of a national online marketing service for foreclosed properties. Just one-half of 1 percent of homes in the county – one out of every 199 – received a notice of a trustee sale or was repossessed by a bank.

In Kootenai County, the picture was far worse.

RealtyTrac reported foreclosure filings on 1,552 properties, an 87 percent climb from 2008 and a 310 percent jump from 2007. Just 46 properties received a notice in 2006, when home values peaked.

One out of every 38 homes – 2.6 percent – received a notice of default or trustee sale, or was a bank repurchase.

Both counties experienced filing increases in December compared with the previous month as well as with December 2008.

But separate 2009 home sales reports from the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene associations of Realtors suggested both markets were improving at year’s end.

Average and median home prices in Spokane increased 1.7 percent and 5 percent, respectively, from November to December. For the year, the average price declined 10.4 percent, while the median price was off 6 percent compared with 2008. Total sales for the year, at 4,664, were off 5 percent.

That’s a big improvement from midyear, when sales were off 23 percent, said association president Rob Higgins.

“The fourth quarter came in strong,” he said, in part because of the federal first-time homebuyer income tax credit. The inventory of unsold homes fell by 317 from November to December, to 2,606.

Sales in Kootenai County increased 11 percent compared with 2009, but average prices fell 16 percent as more expensive properties continued to sell slowly.

Additional foreclosure data from RealtyTrac include:

•Washington finished the year with a foreclosure rate of one out of every 78 homes, up 35 percent from 2008 and 132 percent from 2007. The state ranked 24th among the 50.

•Idaho, with one notice per 37 properties, doubled the rate of 2008 and quadrupled that of 2007.

Only Nevada, Arizona, Florida, California and Utah had higher foreclosure rates.

•A record 2.8 million homes in the United States were subject to foreclosure notice in 2009, 21 percent more than the previous year and 120 percent more than in 2007. One of every 45 homes received a notice.