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SF County Has Highest Foreclosure Rate in N.M.

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Foreclosures are on the rise in Santa Fe County.

Foreclosure-related activity in the area increased by 50 percent, according to a year-to-year comparison by California-based RealtyTrac.

Last month, foreclosure actions were taken against 143 local properties, giving Santa Fe County the highest foreclosure rate in New Mexico. One of every 452 homes in the county received a foreclosure-related notice.

That was higher than in Sandoval County, where the ratio was one out of every 539 homes, and Bernalillo County, which had a rate of one out of every 551 homes. Statewide, one out of every 894 homes in New Mexico received a foreclosure-related notice.

In October 2010, Santa Fe had 95 foreclosure filings. In October 2009, there were 94 filings. In October 2008, only 12.

The low, thus far, in 2011 was 60 foreclosure-related actions in March.

Bank repossessions, which happen at the end of the foreclosure process, jumped dramatically in September this year, with 123 homes taken over. On average, there were 18 repossessions a month over the rest of 2011.

“The October foreclosure numbers continue to show strong signs that foreclosure activity is coming out of the rain delay we’ve been in for the past year as lenders corrected foreclosure paperwork and processing problems,” said RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio in a statement on the company’s latest report.

Foreclosure actions slowed in late 2010 with the robo-signing bank scandal, which centered around banks and other mortgage holders mass-producing foreclosure actions with little or no legal oversight.

Locally, several Realtors said the problem could be a lot worse for Santa Fe.

“Considering the state’s economy, that’s not so bad really,” Realtor Tony Atwell of Sotheby’s said of the statistics.

Santa Fe may be a little worse off compared to other areas of New Mexico, but the situation isn’t as bad as places like California, Florida and Arizona, he added.

JoAnne Vigil Copper, president of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, speculated that banks are releasing more foreclosures into the market right now.

“It may just be circumstantial,” she said. “We do know that these foreclosures are coming on the market because banks were holding some back because of the robo signing. It may be just the product of these being released now.”

People on both the high and low ends of the home building spectrum may have overextended themselves, Vigil Coppler added.

Peter Kahn, a Realtor with Santa Fe Properties who has experience with distressed properties, said the problem varies across the city’s neighborhoods.

Most of Santa Fe’s east side is stable right now, he said. The Aldea area had a relatively large number of bank-owned properties about a year ago, but “they’re all gone mostly,” he said. South Santa Fe properties valued at under $250,000 have been hit hard, and there are also nearly a dozen distressed properties in the upscale Las Campanas subdivision, Kahn said.

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