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Foreclosures On The Rise Locally

Sept. 7, 2010

With that disclaimer, September's Delinquent Tax Sale took place on the steps of the McLennan County Courthouse yesterday, with about 22 potential bidders braving the rain to find a good deal on a house that represents somebody else's misfortune. Nationally, the housing market has slumped in recent weeks, an issue mirrored locally. The problem is particularly visible in the number of foreclosures.

Chad Klawaetter is the Home Ownership Center manager at NeighborWorks Waco, a home ownership advocacy non-profit locally. NeighborWorks counsels potential homebuyers about the risks and responsibilities, and helps them work to avoid foreclosure if necessary. Klawetter says that the factors of the down economy and bad job market converge to make fighting foreclosure seem an exhausting uphill climb to many.

Whatever the factors, the numbers are stark in September. McLennan County had over 144 foreclosed properties listed for auction this month. That's almost a 30 percent increase from August. So Lt. Adrian Warnet of the constable's office stood high atop the large outdoor staircase on the courthouse auctioning off a number of the 36 listed properties. The names and numbers almost read like a eulogy for someone's home. Several properties were sold yesterday for pennies on the dollar of what their owners paid for them, with even this bid, the most competitive of the day, not cracking five figures.

The calmness of the foreclosure auction stands in stark contrast to the raucous atmosphere of many other auctions, which almost seems fitting. But while the tone was calm, Lt. Warden said the numbers were striking. For a September delinquent tax sale, he says this was well-stocked.

There are a number of factors. Chad Klawetter from NeighborWorks said the market in some areas, like California or New York, naturally strain homebuyers who aren't wealthy. Other people get locked up in exotic mortgages that catch them off guard later. But he says that's not the main problem his organization has seen locally that account for such a high number of foreclosures.

n the meantime, he believes this slump is something that will just have to be waited out. Because while it's a favorable setting in which to buy a home, many people just aren't confident enough to do so. The housing numbers will continue to be heavily scrutinized, with their impact on the economy perhaps having an impact on November voters. Evidence of an uptick or downturn will be seen in December, when once again properties go for sale on the steps of the courthouse. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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