County foreclosure rates increasing
January 2, 2007
The number of property foreclosures in the Truckee-Tahoe area is lower than state and countywide trends, but experts say the market is vulnerable to outside influences.
Area homes repossessed by lenders are few compared to the western portions of Nevada and Placer counties, which have seen foreclosure rates grow in the last year by 165 percent and 320 percent respectively. Truckee-Tahoe’s isolation is not complete, however, as fluctuating loan rates, the San Francisco bay area economy and real estate values all influence the local housing market .
“The foreclosure issue up here has ” and will continue to be ” linked to the economy of the Bay Area,” said John Falk, spokesman for the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors. “It has a ripple effect up here, not only for second homeowners but also on resale values.”
However, the effect on home values is minimized in the area, Falk said.
“In a normal market, foreclosure bodes for a market under a degree of strain ” but with the local values it just bodes well for the buyer,” Falk said. “It may even enter the affordable realm.”
He said while the western slope is a more volatile market, the number of second homeowners creates a degree of stability in the eastern counties.
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“It protects us from people that are on the razor’s edge,” Falk said.
Dave Giacomini, broker and owner of Sierra Mountain Mortgage, said they now have their first foreclosure in four years, but he expects to see an increasing trend.
He said adjustable rate mortgages have allowed people to pay less than the interest the loan is gathering, and said the rates are adjusting higher.
When a property stops appreciating in value, the buyer no longer has the ability to pay the loan, Giacomini said.
“The amount they owe goes up instead of down,” Giacomini said. “When they owe more than the house is worth they walk away.”
This is happening more with primary homeowners, who are affected by real estate trends, rather than second homeowners, who are more affected by the economy, he said.
“I think it has to do with the slow housing market ” they can’t sell if they are having problems paying and have to let the lenders take it back,” Giacomini said.
Samantha Read, mortgage planner for Lake Tahoe Mortgage, said many of the foreclosures come from people with lower credit who are already over-extending themselves, but said isn’t common in the Truckee-Tahoe area.