Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009 | 9 p.m.
Foreclosures filings plummeted in November in Las Vegas and the rest of Nevada, but analysts are unsure if this marks a trend.
California-based RealtyTrac reported that foreclosure filings in Nevada dropped by double digits for the second consecutive month. The 9,295 filings in November were 33 percent fewer than October, in which filings were 26 percent below September.
November’s filings were also 33 percent below November 2008.
“It has been pretty amazing what we have been seeing in Nevada and Las Vegas in terms of the last two months,” said RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Bloomquist. “It was surprising to us. We didn’t expect to see this trend to continue because so many forces are driving foreclosures. It is still up in the air if this is a temporary reprieve or if it has truly turned. We are going to be watching it closely in the next two months.”
Bloomquist said it appears the new state mediation program implemented July 1 is affecting the number of filings. That program allows homeowners who get a default notice to request a mediation session with the lender to rework the mortgage. Those monitoring the program said lenders are reducing principal and interest rates to keep people in their homes.
In addition, Bloomquist said, a federal loan modification implemented earlier this year may be gaining some traction. It gives lenders $1,000 for making loan modification to 31 percent of the homeowner’s monthly income, Bloomquist said.
Some lenders are also agreeing to more short sales to prevent houses from going to foreclosure, he said. A short sale allows the homeowner to sell the home for substantially less than they owe on it.
Despite the drop in foreclosures, Bloomquist said, concerns remain that more homeowners are vulnerable to losing their homes because of the 13 percent jobless rate in Nevada.
If foreclosures continue to drop, that would be healthy for the housing market by allowing inventory to be gobbled up and prices to stabilize, he said.
“It does seem like a possibility because the city was hit so hard and prices have fallen so much, Las Vegas may be poised to hit the bottom quicker and recover quicker than the rest of the country,” Bloomquist said.
That perception, however, differs from some national analysts who maintain foreclosures will continue to be problem in Las Vegas into 2010 and housing prices should continue to decline because of it.
Nevada holds the top spot in the nation for foreclosures, as it has since January 2007. It had one filing for every 119 households. Florida was second with one filing for every 165 households.
Among cities, Las Vegas fell from the No. 1 spot it had held for four consecutive months and been at or near for much of the year.
Las Vegas fell to No. 5 in November with one filing for every 102 households. The city’s filings fell 33 percent in November but were still four times the national average.
“This is good news for Las Vegas, but even if the trend continues it still has a long way to go before the city is out of the woods in terms of its foreclosure problem,” Bloomquist said.