Bay Area home foreclosures slowing

March 11, 2010 6:32:05 PM PST
For the first time in a long time, some of the Bay Area's hardest hit counties are seeing their foreclosure numbers drop compared with last year.

In San Joaquin County, foreclosure filings have dropped 42 percent since February 2009; in Alameda, foreclosure filings are down 16 percent and in Contra Costa County, filings are down 3 percent.

"Just recently we've seen a small slowdown," Elaine Brooks-Cox said. Brooks-Cox is a foreclosure counselor with Pacific Community Services in Pittsburg.

At least temporarily, fewer bank-owned properties are coming on the market. In some areas of Contra Costa County, there is intense competition for them among buyers.

"Our inventory for foreclosure inventory and short-sale inventory in the local 680 corridor is down; we're seeing probably a decrease by as much as 60 percent over what it was last year," realtor Vickie Nagy said.

Still, there are many Bay Area communities where foreclosure activity is on the rise, including San Mateo County, up 51 percent in the last year and San Francisco, up 58 percent.

Counselors say many of the struggling homeowners they see now have lost their jobs.

"We're seeing families depleting their savings, their retirement, depleting their unemployment benefits," Brooks-Cox said.

George Jones still has a job, but his work hours have been cut in half. At the height of the market, he refinanced the Antioch home he has lived in for 50 years. Now he owes more than the house is worth and is trying to hold off foreclosure.

"I'm trying to keep from doing that, going into that, because I don't want to lose my house," he said.

Brooks-Cox says the new wave of those facing foreclosure include many professionals who have lost a job in the past year and have had a hard time finding a new one.


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