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California Short Sales, Foreclosures, REOs Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside & Orange County Short-Sales Listings
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09 Aug 10 Northern California Foreclosure Aid On the Way?

Having a hard time with your mortgage payments?

California foreclosure rates continue to rise.  California short sales and loan modification programs continue to dominate home financing circles.  Sixty miles northeast of the high-rolling corporate campuses of Google Inc. and Intel Corp., housing tracts sit vacant.  Many Northern California factories are closed and job centers are packed with local residents searching for new employment opportunities. 

This area makes Southern California’s Inland Empire look like it has recovered and we know that hasn’t happened.  The reality is that the inland regions east of San Francisco have plagued housing sectors like Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The inland area of San Francisco that includes San Joaquin, Alameda and Contra Costa counties has become bedroom communities for workers priced out of real estate markets closer to the coast.  And just like the Inland Empire, the area was among the hardest hit by the economic downturn as buyers lost homes to short sales and foreclosure as home values continue to prices plummet.  Northern California REO

 Housing is perhaps the biggest millstone. During the real estate boom, families that couldn’t afford real estate in San Francisco headed inland, buying homes in towns such as Tracy, Manteca and Brentwood. Dwellings there could cost $500,000 less than comparable properties in the Bay Area, said Michael Locke, president and chief executive of the San Joaquin Partnership, a private economic development company. Builders rushed to put up homes in vast developments, and employment in financial services in the three counties grew by a third in just a few years.  Now, building has all but stopped. Home prices in San Joaquin County have fallen 63% since the peak median price of $451,500 in November 2005, according to MDA DataQuick. Prices in Contra Costa County are down 53% from their peak of $600,000 in April 2007.

One in every 135 houses in Contra Costa County received a foreclosure filing in June 2010. In San Joaquin County, that figure is 1 in 104, nearly double the California average.  Signs of California foreclosures and economic slowdown are everywhere. At Bethel Island, a Contra Costa County summer vacation area normally busy with tourists and fishermen, boats sit rotting in the Sacramento River. Nearby, a planned residential waterfront development has stalled. The builder completed boat docks before pulling out; an eerie remnant of the luxury once planned there. In Livermore, an Alameda County town, whole shopping developments are empty and home foreclosure notices dot homes.  In Stockton, which had one of the highest California foreclosure rates, the median home price of $100,500 fell from $397,000 at the height of the boom, a stunning 74% drop. 

But home buyers are scarce. Homes much closer to employment centers such as San Francisco and San Jose have fallen to the prices Stockton enjoyed a few years ago.  “It’s not a bargain if you don’t have a job,” said Stockton real estate broker Rudy Willey.  The unemployment rate in Stockton, the county seat of San Joaquin County, is 19.8%. It’s 29% in the nearby hamlet of Garden Acres, higher than any city of its size in Southern California’s Inland Empire. Closer to San Francisco, in the Contra Costa County city of Pittsburg, the unemployment rate is 18%. Some of the jobs have been lost because of closures in the manufacturing and financial services industries, traditionally strong in this area. And as the region’s population cuts back on spending, stores and restaurants are

With sales and property taxes plummeting, cash-strapped cities are hustling to attract businesses.  Like many areas, San Joaquin County has an enterprise zone. Businesses that locate there are eligible for tax breaks. Last year the county expanded its zone to 656 square miles.  Stockton attracted a power plant and a prison hospital, businesses other communities might not welcome. Gus Duran, the city’s interim economic development director, said he’s trying to woo other businesses by slashing permit and development fees 50%.  And Tracy’s City Council has voted to develop an incentive plan to attract retailers to the half-empty West Valley Mall, where a Mervyn’s closure prompted other retailers to flee. On a recent afternoon, in the darkened side of the mall that once held the Mervyn’s, two teenagers groped each other on a bench near the empty stores.

Economists say the employment picture won’t likely get much better until things improve in the East Bay, which supported many inland jobs. The Port of Oakland has shed jobs as cargo traffic fell; import volumes tumbled 14% between the first quarter of 2007 and the same period in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. The region was also hit by the bankruptcy of Mervyn’s, headquartered in Hayward, and the buyout of Longs Drug, based in Walnut Creek.  “Stores don’t last here,” said Edna Jones, a teacher sitting outside a closed Mervyn’s in Newark. “You think something’s open, but it’s gone.” 

The Hardest Hit Fund was designed to be complementary to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) unveiled in 2009, a federal program unveiled in early 2009 to help homeowners modify their mortgages.   California loan modification plans are not easy to find as many homeowners have jumbo mortgages that lenders simply are not willing to restructure.  The HAMP fund was established by President Barack Obama in February to provide targeted aid to families in the states hit hardest by the downturn of the housing market. The first phase of the program provided $1.5 billion to five states with home price declines of more than 20%: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada   Read mor online > The Herald-Sun – Help coming against foreclosures.



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