Thursday, December 23, 2004

Collin tops area counties in foreclosure postings


By: , A. LEE GRAHAM. The Allen American

Collin County stands alone among major North Texas counties in posting more residential foreclosures compared to last year.

Meanwhile, North Texas as a whole is enjoying a break from record posting activity.
"Collin was definitely a surprise," said George Roddy Sr., president of Foreclosure Listing Service Inc. in Addison.

Since last January, Collin County homes set for foreclosure have surged 11 percent, making it the only Metro county to experience such an increase over the same time last year. Metro counties comprise Collin, Denton, Dallas and Tarrant.

"But it's not all bad news," said Roddy, emphasizing that Collin postings dropped 1 percent compared to the 352 homes posted last month. That's when the county posted a new monthly record by exceeding 315 postings filed in April. December postings leaped 29 percent compared with the same month last year when 272 homes were posted.

"The good news is that the spikes are over for the year," said Roddy, referring to sudden bursts of foreclosure activity. Three major spikes struck in April, September and December.

"But the bad news is that foreclosures are still occurring at very high levels, and I don't see that ending anytime soon."

What analysts call "upside-down" loan-to-value ratios have swept the region. About 15 percent of area homes headed for January foreclosure auction fit that definition, meaning that the original loan amount exceeded the assessed value of the home.

Exhibiting the lowest such characteristics among Metro and wider North Texas areas is Collin County. With an 11 percent ratio, just 37 of the 348 Collin County homes headed for auction have original loan amounts exceeding their assessed value.

In other Metro counties, Dallas accounted for 15 percent of January postings, Tarrant County at 17 percent and Denton County was at 16 percent.

Analysts call the "most troubling" areas those fitting upside-down criteria, which are in Central Texas.

Continuing to feed high foreclosure levels are unemployment, credit-card debt and homeowners buying more than they can afford. Months after first-time buyers snapped up suburban homes and dot-com jobs with equal ease, many consumers continue struggling with monthly payments.

"It all feeds the problem," said Roddy.

While Collin County has 348 homes headed for January foreclosure auction, Denton County experienced the biggest drop in posting activity.

The latest numbers reveal 241 homes headed for auction, compared with the 309 Denton County properties posted last month. Postings for the county have dropped 9 percent compared to January 2004 when 266 postings were filed.

In Dallas County, 1,295 homes are headed for auction. Falling 11 percent from December's record high of 1,456, posting activity also dropped 11 percent compared to last January. But compared to January 2002 and 2003, postings in Dallas were higher by 18 percent compared to two years ago and 69 percent more than three years ago.

In Tarrant County, January postings totaled 849, dropping 17 percent from December's 1,022 residential postings. Compared to last January, postings of Tarrant County homes have dropped by 13 percent. But in three years, Tarrant postings have surged 68 percent.

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