Many levels to like with declining foreclosures

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Perhaps it wasn’t an earthshaking news item but some welcome numbers nonetheless. A report released earlier this month noted Colorado realized a 54 percent drop in foreclosure activity the past year, with a foreclosure rate of 1 for every 2,577 housing units at the end of 2013 — and nationally the comparison shows a 26 percent drop.

The report by RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosed properties, shared its bright figures, which were not unexpected results but progressing faster than expected, at least according to Jefferson County public trustee Margaret Chapman.

Chapman, like other officials in Colorado counties, has been tracking foreclosures for the better part of a decade, and we like her comment noting the country is finally getting rid of the ill-considered loans written in 2005 when borrowers “had to do little to show income.”

Well, we are getting rid of several effects related to easy money home loans that contributed to the housing bubble bust. We wrote stories through the years about the extra work involved for police to keep an eye on vacant properties, which can be targets for theft, vandalism or teen gatherings. This is tough on neighborhoods, so we are pleased to get rid of the problems associated with vacant home pockets here and there.

Of course the impact to the undercurrents to the economy have been even more severe.

The foreclosures caused serious reductions in the value of homes. We know it doesn’t take a wide circle of friends to find someone who bought a house and got caught in the downturn and felt saddled for the long-term with “upside down” mortgages. 

Now the loose loan practices of the past have dried up in many ways and made it tougher for some wanting to buy homes, but the tightening had to happen. This effect and the downturn of the economy in 2008 made it in turn tough for many businesses looking for loans to advance their businesses. Businesses certainly suffered, and we reported the related double trouble of unemployment and foreclosures on many families.

Having covered the problems under the dark clouds of foreclosures, we are glad to see the numbers give hints for an improving, more stable economy.  We hope legislation passed by the Statehouse in recent years to address predatory lending and federal mechanisms will help to prevent the country from finding itself in the same jam.

We are happy to leave visions of boarded up buildings behind. Colorado has a lot going for it. We see good signs. For one, the battered construction industry is seeing more housing and office projects in the works. And Forbes magazine recently ranked Colorado as the fifth best state for business, and predicted strong growth.

It’s been a slow turning, but we enjoy every sign that the economy is turning around.