Defaults slow, but still triple last year

Jackson County defaults slowed in February, but still nearly tripled the number of houses moving toward foreclosure a year earlier.

There were 103 defaults reported last month compared to 37 in February 2007. That came on the heels of 124 defaults reported in January, when the number soared from 42 the first month of 2007.

With many local home buyers focused on homes either repossessed by lenders or in distress sales, overall market value has declined substantially in the past two years.

Colin Mullane, an agent with REMAX Realty group in Ashland and a member of the Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service Board, said sales get far more complicated once houses are headed for default.

"We've had our job cut out for us," Mullane said. "There is a kind of shame involved so we typically don't see these kind of sales coming. It's just human nature when the bill comes to the door to put it aside and not deal with it."

Distressed sellers are reluctant to share their financial plight with real estate agents and that introduces additional pressure down the road.

"We need to know more from the seller to really make it happen for the (ones) that really need to sell," Mullane said. "The amount of work needed for a short-sale to close is tremendous; it's a mine field."

Short-sellers, trying to unload their homes for less than they owe lenders, can run into many obstacles. If sellers don't fully disclose their assets, the lender can take personal property or money in savings or other accounts.

"If the amount you sell the house for is $40,000 less than you owe and you have 40-grand in a savings account, they're going to go after it," Mullane said. "There are a million things that can happen if you don't give full disclosure to your Realtor, and then we have to know what we're doing, too."

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