NorCal towns dominate foreclosure bust

February 13, 2008 7:11:52 PM PST
The newest report on home foreclosures brings some shockingly bad news for California. It includes a Northern California town that's ranked second worst in the country for foreclosures.

The mortgage research firm, RealtyTrac, found that Detroit had the highest foreclosure rate last year. But after that, California cities dominate.

Stockton ranked second, Riverside ranked fourth, Sacramento was fifth, Bakersfield seventh, Fresno 14th, and Oakland ranked 16th.

With the holidays over, there's little to celebrate in Stockton's Westin Ranch neighborhood. On every street it seems like there's a few empty houses with nobody home.

In fact, according to RealtyTrac, Stockton had 22,000 foreclosure filings in 2007, in a city of just over 280,000 people. That's up 271 percent compared with 2006.

The misfortune of others has been a boon of sorts for realtor Glenn Woodard, who has 25 foreclosure listings right now.

"You have to re-invent yourself in business anyway. But when the market shifted to foreclosures, that's when I shifted from the regular business to foreclosures. 85 percent of my business right now is foreclosure properties," says Woodard.

Realtor Cesar Dias has also done a little re-inventing. Besides selling houses, he's created his own niche with this.

"Repo Bus" is a service for potential buyers, that every Saturday, shuttles them to neighborhoods hardest hit by the mortgage crisis.

"They're coming from different locations. We have Portland, Vegas, L.A., the Bay Area. They're just interested in seeing what's here. There's opportunity in prices," says Dias.

Even in Westin Ranch, some families are finding opportunity in the tough times. Jeff Barnes, his wife, and six children are moving in where so many others have moved out.

"There's a lot of signs, a lot of foreclosures, but we're moving in. For some people, it's a bad thing. And for some people it's a good thing. Now some people can get into a house that they couldn't get into before," says Barnes.