By Julie Sherwood
Ontario County, N.Y. —
Foreclosure rates in the Rochester region increased for the month of December over the same period last year, according to a national financial services and real estate company.
The increase of nearly half a percentage point was accompanied by an increase of 0.62 percent for a mortgage delinquency rate of 90 days or more, according to the company CoreLogic.
The average foreclosure rate for the region in December 2012 of 3.04 percent also surpassed the national average of 2.96 percent.
Saying the numbers are troubling, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had his office establish a hotline for homeowners at risk of foreclosure (1-855-HOME-456).
Experts at Canandaigua National Bank and Trust Co., whose customers are mainly in Ontario and Monroe counties, said they know there are homeowners facing difficulties. “We’ve been aware of some circumstances creating challenges for the whole community,” said Brian Pasley, CNB’s senior vice president, consumer loan product and operations manager. Pasley said the economic struggles of the past few years are still weighing heavily in certain households. He said that while CNB was not involved in the high-risk loans of a few years ago that hurt home-buyers, that situation is reflected in the statistics.
At CNB, the mortgage delinquency rate in December 2012 was 1.54 for residential mortgages (about 2 percent for commercial and residential mortgages overall). That was down from 1.64 percent a year ago. Chris Spaker, president of CNB Mortgage Co., said CNB holds to tight guidelines for granting mortgages that protect the bank and the consumer. “It forces us to put better quality on the books,” Spaker said.
Pasley said as a community bank, CNB knows its customers and understands what they can reasonably handle with a mortgage.
“We have a chance to do things for people we know,” he said.
The bank currently has 26 properties in foreclosure; of those, 13 are old foreclosures with one single investor.
Meanwhile, the overall housing market reflects a mix of negative and positive developments. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released this week dipped to 46 from 47 in January. It was the first monthly decline in the index since April. Readings below 50 suggest negative sentiment about the housing market.
The last time the index was at 50 or higher was in April 2006, when it was 51. It began trending higher in October 2011, when it was down to 17. The latest index, based on responses from 402 builders, came as the U.S. housing market is strengthening after stagnating for roughly five years after the housing boom collapsed.
Steady job gains and near-record-low mortgage rates have encouraged more people to buy homes. Prices have been rising. In part, that's because the supply of previously occupied homes for sale has thinned to the lowest level in more than a decade. And the pace of foreclosures, while still rising in some states, has slowed sharply on a national basis.