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Tuesday, Sep. 30, 2014

Area foreclosures up slightly

Sunday, October 14, 2007

SIKESTON -- Foreclosure rates in the area are beginning to edge up, a shadowing of what is occurring in the national market.

"They are by far higher this year," said Tom Dirnberger, Scott County recorder. "Every day, we're getting one or two, and it used to be one or two a week."

In fact, a record number have already been filed this year. More than 200 were filed so far this year -- a sharp contrast to the 153 total filed in 2006.

In September, 223,538 foreclosure filings were reported nationwide -- almost doubling the 112,210 in the same month last year, according to a RealtyTrac Inc. report issued Thursday.

A big chunk of the filings in Scott County deal with land fraud. "In Scott County, there have been at least 300 fraudulent loans -- fraudulent meaning loans given on properties that were over-appraised," he said. "If it wouldn't be for these foreclosures, I'd say I have 10 to 15 percent more."

Other county recorders noted a slight rise, but nothing like that seen across the nation.

"We have more than we used to," said Kay Asbell, the recorder in Stoddard County," There's been a jump over the past two years."

Ann Copeland, the recorder in New Madrid County, said she doesn't keep records of the number of foreclosures. "But I'm not seeing a big influx," she said. "I don't think it's as volatile here as it has been all over the nation."

The way foreclosures are indexed in Mississippi County, it's hard to keep good records, said Judy Rolwing, recorder. And a lot of times, after the first step -- the appointment of successor trustees -- nothing happens.

"There's been no big rise, other than in the number of the appointments," she said. But she didn't rule out an increase in following months.

"We get the trends toward the end, it seems," Rolwing said.

Lori Fowler, a broker at Area Properties in Sikeston, said there are several factors affecting the market.

"It's just been aggressive lending practices in general," Fowler said.

One practice has been 100 percent financing often offered to borrowers.

"People who wouldn't have traditionally qualified for a home qualified," she said. "Some people who were not as financially stable were buying houses."

Dirnberger agreed, noting that a lot of young people were affected by that. "They can survive for awhile, but then they start having kids, and their payments start getting stretched out."

Another issue is the adjustable rate mortgage, which typically locks in a fixed rate for a set number of years -- commonly two or three -- and then changes monthly. "When they see that first rate go up a little bit, it puts a strain on the family budget and they can't pay for the house on a monthly basis," Fowler said. Mortgage rates did rise a bit recently, but are still competitive, she added.

The problems have had some effect on the national housing market. "I think most of the real estate agents in this area think the real estate market has been a little softer this year," Fowler said. "Sellers have to be a little more patient; and they may not get that really high dollar they were getting recently for their homes."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.