Wednesday, September 06, 2006

'Reminiscent Of The 80's': San Antonio

From My San Antonio. "Nearly 850 Bexar County residents lost their homes to foreclosure Tuesday, the third-highest monthly total in more than a decade. The slew of foreclosures is reminiscent of the late 1980s when oil busted and the San Antonio real estate market crashed."

"'Lenders are making riskier loans,' said Jim Gaines, research economist with the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. 'Some of that risk is coming home to roost.'"

"People who buy a home with no down payment and who roll closing costs into their mortgage loan seem especially vulnerable to foreclosure. These 'upside-down' loans make up only about 1 percent of all mortgage loans in San Antonio, according to a mortgage research firm."

"But in the first half of 2006, they made up 16 percent of the Bexar County foreclosure market. George Roddy, president of Foreclosure Listing Service, said interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages, known as ARMs, are resetting at higher levels now, sometimes doubling monthly mortgage payments. And consumers have had a harder time getting bankruptcy protection."

"In 1996, 3,894 Bexar County homes were sold at the foreclosure auction. So far this year, 6,510 homes have sold at auction."

"Gregg Stanley, owner of a San Antonio-based foreclosure listing service, said the rise in local property values has helped many families avoid foreclosure. 'They can sell and be OK if they do it quickly enough,' he said."

"Without the rise in property values, Stanley said, foreclosures would be double or triple the current levels."

"In the late 1980s and early 1990s, people typically lost their homes to foreclosure because of an economic downturn that led to layoffs. 'This isn't the '80s,' Gaines said. 'In the state of Texas we've had a lot of people buying homes in the last two or three years on easy credit terms. Lenders are pushing mortgages out the door.'"

"Gaines said people who never thought they could become homeowners have been able to get into the market and, for the most part, hang onto their homes. 'Was it a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know where you draw the line,' Gaines said. 'These were people who were giving it a shot who were never able to give it a shot before.'"


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