Number of Grand County foreclosures in 2008 already exceeds last year’s total |

Number of Grand County foreclosures in 2008 already exceeds last year’s total

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

So far this year, 60 properties are in foreclosure in Grand County, surpassing the number for all of 2007.

But Grand County Treasurer Christina Whitmer says it’s “too soon to tell” if it is a trend or a temporary spike behind the mounting number of defaulted loans.

Such a mid-season tally is not unheard of. Her office has seen as many as 120 foreclosures in a given year, she said.

October would be a better month to gauge the number of foreclosures, Whitmer said, to know their impact and to define what areas may be foreclosure hot-spots, such as individual residential properties or whole subdivisions.

Judith Graham of Graham Mortgage in Winter Park is willing to venture a guess. Some people got into homes with too much ease and now face ballooning payments.

“The majority of it is the adjustable rate mortgages that have reached their three- or five-year span,” she said. “The mortgage interest rate is being increased, and often people can’t pay increased payments because either the house is not worth what it was (hampering refinancing), or secondly, their credit has gotten bad. They become stuck between a rock and a hard place and can’t sell it.”

Compounding the problem may be homes that have sat longer on the market in the last year in response to cautious buyers waiting for an economic revival.

Although individuals may try hard to keep their investment homes, real estate speculators are more apt to abandon properties when the market turns unfavorable, according to a recent New York Times report.

And Grand County has been a place primed for speculative building.

“If it’s a builder, a lot of builders are walking away,” Graham said.

Poor planning and money managing, for example, may lead to unfinished projects.

“I know a number of cases like that in Grand County,” she said.

Or, there may have been an inflated value when the speculative builder acquired a loan. “I’ve seen that happen, too, she said.”

But for individual home buyers, there are various reasons for foreclosures.

For instance, loss of a job or a divorce in the mix with a house that doesn’t sell quickly can lead to circumstances where the only logical solution is to walk away.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail