Mortgage foreclosures dip slightly while delinquencies rise

FRESNO, Calif.

"As you can see by this list it's not getting any better."

Chris Mathys and the others here are looking for bargains, but as a former City Council member who walked many of these neighborhoods Mathys realizes the deals are usually at the expense of someone who's fallen on hard times.

"Most of the people regretfully are unemployed and their unemployment benefits have run out. If these people could work and find a job, I can assure you this list would be 10% of what it is." Mathys said.

The latest figures show the foreclosure rate has dropped by half a percentage point in the past year. It's slightly below the national average at around 3%.

But at the same time, the number of delinquencies is up. Nearly 11 per cent of all home mortgages in the area were 90 days or more late on their payments. That's up from just over 10 per cent a year earlier. A small rise prompting some lenders to step up their efforts to help troubled homeowners.

"Nobody wins when a home gets foreclosed. Not only is it a tragedy for a family but the bank doesn't win either. It's a very expensive endeavor."

David Galasso of Wells Fargo Bank presented Clearpoint credit counseling service with a check for $200 thousand to provide more counseling services to homeowners in trouble. Clearpoint is just one of several local agencies trying to help homeowners but director Martha Lucey says it's getting tougher.

"Until we see people getting back to full employment we don't see that it's going down."

There are currently close to four thousand homes in some stage of foreclosure in the Fresno area, and many will end up being auctioned off.

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