Friday, April 24, 2009

Comment from El Paso Cty Public Trustee on yesterday's Realty Trac Report

Yesterday, several media outlets wrote/broadcast about a report issued by Realty Trac that asserted that Colorado Springs is #1 in the state for foreclosure filings. While that may be true, the data reported by Realty Trac is highly questionable. Official, accurate statistics on foreclosures are reported to the Colorado Division of Housing by each county’s Public Trustee. I expect that the official 1st Quarter Report will be issued shortly.

While the ledes in the published articles asserted that Colorado Springs led in “new foreclosure filings,” the articles later defined this as “foreclosure activity,” meaning “notices of default, foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions.” I have no idea what Realty Trac is actually counting to get to their figure of 1876. In El Paso County last quarter, we recorded 1292 Notices of Election and Demand, the document that initiates a foreclosure. We sold 522 properties at auction, and issued deeds in 519. There is no way to add those numbers and arrive at 1876. Last year, the sheriff processed an average of 6 foreclosures per quarter, so that doesn’t account for the difference. I do not know how RT would know how many “notices of default” were sent to property owners by their lenders – nor would that equate to a foreclosure.

The CSBJ published a more detailed table on foreclosures per zip code. This data is wildly at odds with what we can report. For example, the graph shows 80916 with the highest number, at 72. In fact, we recorded 113 NEDs for that zip code – over 50% greater than RT shows. Next on their list was 80907, with 58 according to RT. In fact, 80907 had one of the lowest rates of NED filing, with only 38 recorded. It seems unlikely that RT is counting sales, since there were only 117 NEDs recorded in 80907 all of last year – with only about 60% of NED filings resulting in sale, it seems unlikely that 58 properties in that zip code went to sale in that one quarter.

I could further discuss the data, but the bottom line is that the Realty Trac data do not align with anything this office can support. The Colorado Public Trustee system is unique, and its figures are difficult to compare those from other states. Please rely on official data collected by the Public Trustees and reported through the Colorado Division of Housing.

Best regards,


Thomas S. Mowle

El Paso County Public Trustee