Oregon foreclosure filings drop in April as lenders shift attention east

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oregon foreclosure filings in April were nearly half the amount seen a year ago, reflecting a nationwide decline and a shift in foreclosure activity toward the East Coast.

According to RealtyTrac, a California-based foreclosure listing site, lenders filed fewer U.S. foreclosure actions in April than any month since July 2007.

In Oregon, lenders set foreclosure auctions for 1,203 properties in April and repossessed 504. Filings fell 48 percent compared with a year earlier, and 2.5 percent compared with March.

In the Portland area, foreclosure filings have fallen 43 percent since last April and 9 percent since March. The biggest decline was in Washington’s Clark County, where filings are down 43 percent from a year ago.

“The trend is stabilizing,” said Ally Leavitt, a spokeswoman for Gorilla Capital, a Eugene company that buys and sells foreclosed homes. “We’re going to look to get back to 2007 numbers at the end of the year.”

Lenders have focused their attention on states — many on the East Coast — where foreclosure proceedings occur in court, a slow process that’s caused a backlog. The bottleneck in those states was compounded when lenders placed a moratorium on foreclosures after sloppy documentation processes — the scandal that led to a $25 billion national settlement with major lenders — came to light.

Oregon, Washington and such hard-hit states as California, Arizona and Nevada all have nonjudicial foreclosure processes that move along more quickly.

In addition, lenders are increasingly approving short sales, in which lenders accept whatever amount a home nets on the open market instead of the balance due on the mortgage. Borrowers can avoid some of the credit impact of a foreclosure, and the lender avoids the cost of foreclosing.

Oregon foreclosures could spike in May and June because of a new foreclosure mediation law that takes effect in July, Leavitt said. The measure requires banks to meet with borrowers in mediation before auctioning or repossessing their home.

“A lot of these lenders are going to push to get them in before” the law takes effect, Leavitt said.

Meanwhile, the Mortgage Bankers Association on Wednesday reported the number of U.S. borrowers behind on their payments in the year’s first quarter fell to 11.33 percent, nearly 1 percentage point lower than a year earlier.
Elliot Njus