When San Miguel County Treasurer Janice Stout took office in 2007, her office opened 19 foreclosures countywide. By 2010, the nationwide mortgage crisis had reached Telluride; her office opened 107 foreclosures that year.
The county has once again returned to the other side of that peak, she reported this week: In 2015, her office opened just eight foreclosures in the county. To date in 2016, she has not opened a single foreclosure case.
The drop in foreclosures means Stout’s office is bringing in less revenue, but the treasurer said that’s good news for the county.
“Fewer foreclosures is a good thing. We’re not here to make money on the backs of borrowers who can’t make their payments,” she said. “This is wonderful news.”
Stout said federal programs, including the Making Home Affordable program that requires lenders to work with borrowers on loan modifications before filing for foreclosure, have contributed to the decrease in foreclosures, but the strengthening local economy has also played a role.
Thomas Galleger, community bank president for the Telluride branch of ANB Bank, agreed.
“If people lose their jobs, nobody wants to let their house go into foreclosure, so one option is they could sell the house,” Galleger said. “In 2010, it was not even a possibility to sell their house.”
“The housing market right now is extremely strong, and that’s the primary reason you haven’t seen any foreclosures,” he added. Owners headed toward foreclosure can opt to sell the property.
“Ultimately, we haven’t had any problem loans in the past couple of years,” Galleger said. “Traditionally we haven’t had many foreclosures, but lately it’s down considerably from the last few years.”
Telluride Association of Realtors President Pat Pelisson said the local real estate market has rebounded. In 2011, he said, TAR brokers completed $247 million in transactions. In 2014 that number had risen to $461 million.
Pelisson added that the local market was slow in 2010 and 2011 because “bottom feeder buyers” were coming into the market looking for a deal, but local owners had less of a need to sell than those in other markets.
“Since all those foreclosures have gone away, there are people coming in with more realistic expectations, looking for the Telluride lifestyle rather than a good deal,” Pelisson said. “We’ve seen the number of transactions and prices coming up.”
Prior to reaching single digits in 2015, the county treasurer’s office opened 27 foreclosures in 2014.