Counties see skyrocketing foreclosure rates

August 14, 2008 7:28:16 PM PDT
More foreclosure signs are going up around the Bay Area in places we are not used to seeing. New numbers released Thursday show the picture remains grim. No part of the Bay Area is now immune from the housing crisis. Foreclosures are skyrocketing in the wealthy counties of Marin and San Mateo.

Compared with Contra Costa and Alameda counties, San Mateo and Marin counties have been relatively unscathed by the mortgage crisis, until now.

South San Francisco's Pedro Jimenez and his wife make $3,500 per month as restaurant workers. For two and a half years, they managed to make their $4,500 per month mortgage payments. That was until six months ago when those payments escalated to $6,000 per month.

Jimenez, who has five children, has not lost his home yet, but is headed that way.

"We're going to be struggling for the next, I don't know, months, months. I don't want to leave, but if they tell me to leave, what else can I do?" says Jimenez.

According to RealtyTrac, the mortgage meltdown is starting to impact counties that until now have been relatively insulated.

Places like Marin County have seen foreclosure filings jump 603 percent since July of last year. In San Mateo County the increase was 831 percent.

"We probably are starting to see a few more foreclosures than we did in the beginning. I think as the year progresses and also as we get a few more years under the belt of these loans that are adjusting, we will see larger numbers," says Sue Walsh, president of the San Mateo County Association of Realtors.

Cynthia Kroll is a professor of economics at the Fisher Real Estate Center at UC Berkeley. She believes the foreclosure crisis is a three-stage process that initially affected those with subprime loans and interest rates that escalated dramatically. People like Pedro Jimenez.

"Next we'll see the impact of falling home prices and this can affect even people who are not in subprime loans, who are perhaps stretching to meet the value of their home and if anything happens, they may no longer have any equity to protect in their loan and they may have more incentive to walk away," says Kroll.

Professor Kroll believes we are currently in stage two. Stage three would happen if the recession deepens and people start walking from their homes because they are losing their jobs or because of other financial difficulties.

Foreclosure rates since July of 2007

  • Alameda -- up 81 percent
  • Contra Costa -- up 11 percent
  • Marin -- up 603 percent
  • Napa -- up 115 percent
  • San Francisco -- up 335 percent
  • San Joaquin -- up 35 percent
  • San Mateo -- up 831 percent
  • Santa Clara -- up 190 percent
  • Solano -- up 29 percent
  • Sonoma -- up 78 percent

National foreclosure rate ranking

  • Alameda -- 19
  • Contra Costa -- 13
  • Marin -- 42
  • Napa -- 30
  • San Francisco -- 51
  • San Joaquin -- 2
  • San Mateo -- 36
  • Santa Clara -- 29
  • Solano -- 8
  • Sonoma -- 31

RealtyTrac: Nationwide July figures


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