from Last YearForeclosures Up 38%

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Marin Independent Journal. Logo.
Jim Staats, News, Marin Independent Journal

April 22, 2009

Foreclosures in Marin jumped 38 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with 2008, a real estate tracking firm reported Wednesday. The 105 trustees' deeds recorded from January through March, representing actual loss of homes to foreclosure, remained small compared with other counties in the state, but was up from the 76 foreclosures during the same period last year, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

87 Trustees' Deed Recorded in Last Quarter 2008

During the last quarter of 2008, 87 trustees' deeds were recorded in Marin.

Realtor Vince Gramalia . . . said he expects foreclosure activity to accelerate over the next several months. "We're going to see more upper-end home (foreclosures) coming due to pink slips coming out, loss of incomes, Ponzi schemes and the stock market being down," Gramalia said . . .

The county's 345 first-quarter notices of default, the first step in foreclosure proceedings, were up from the 314 default notices during the same period last year. Marin had 194 default notices from October through December 2008.

Manny Fernandez, executive director of Marin Family Action, a San Rafael nonprofit that offers loan modification services to residents facing foreclosure, said the number of clients seeking such help has tripled in the past three months.

"All the clients I've seen usually have subprime loans or no (documentation) loans," said Fernandez, who said he has routinely been stonewalled by lending institutions and mortgage firms. "They say they want to help, but they don't," he said. "Loan modification essentially is non-existent. There's a big difference between what they say they're doing and what they are doing."

One client working with Fernandez on Wednesday was 64-year-old Roy Schmall, who received a notice of default on his San Rafael home of 31 years a few months back.

Schmall, a San Francisco retailer, said a combination of reduced income, family illness and risky refinancing five or six years ago has left him and his wife nearly broke. "When we refinanced, there was no sign there was going to be a big economic downturn," he said. "I just want to see what I could do about the house."

Statewide, lenders filed 135,431 default notices this past quarter, an all-time high for any quarter recorded by DataQuick going back to 1992. That figure was up 80 percent from 75,230 default notices from the last quarter of 2008, shortly after a new state law took effect requiring lenders to take added steps aimed at keeping troubled borrowers in their homes. One year ago, there were 113,809 quarterly notices filed.

Analysts said the spike in defaults could be attributed to the state law working its way through the system, unprepared banks and growing job losses . . . delinquencies (in payments) are running high and not all lenders were prepared or staffed for it.

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