Foreclosure: Snohomish County bucks national trend

While foreclosures are rising in many areas of the country, the number of Snohomish County homeowners in jeopardy of losing their homes actually went down last month, according to RealtyTrac Inc.

In March, foreclosure filings were issued for 228 properties across the county. That translates a foreclosure rate of one out of every 1,187 households. That was down 3 percent from February and was 8 percent lower than the rate a year ago.

Statewide, however, foreclosures were up in March about 121 percent from a year ago, with a majority of that increase since February.

With the increase, RealtyTrac estimated 1 out of every 705 households in the state was in foreclosure. That ranked 16th nationally.

“There are areas where foreclosures certainly are spiking. I don’t see Washington as one of those, at least not yet,” said Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac spokesman.

The report from RealtyTrac showed one out of every 538 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing last month.

“The March numbers show that overall foreclosure activity so far this year continues to run nearly 60 percent above the levels we saw last year,” said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s chief executive officer, in a summary of the new statistics.

On a year-over-year basis, default notices to homeowners were up 57 percent and bank repossessions were up nearly 129 percent. Auction notices, however, were up only 32 percent.

That indicates, Saccacio said, that more people simply are walking away from properties and deeding them back to the foreclosing lenders. That’s especially true in areas were homeowners have lost any equity they once had in their properties.

For the 15th straight month, Nevada led all states in foreclosure rates. In March, one out of every 139 households in that state received a foreclosure notice — nearly four times the national average. California, Florida and Arizona saw the next highest rates.

In those states, home values have tumbled significantly. That hasn’t been the case in the Puget Sound area, however.

“The home price appreciation in the Seattle area has been pretty steady. It’s held up pretty well,” said Blomquist. That means most homeowners have equity in their homes and are more likely to either sell them or refinance them than succumb to foreclosure.

Reporter Eric Fetters: 425-339-3453 or fetters@heraldnet.com.

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