Whatcom County foreclosure filings down 13 percent in 2013


Whatcom County foreclosure activity continues to slow, falling to its lowest level in five years.

This area had 475 foreclosure filing notices throughout 2013, down 13 percent compared to 2012, according to data collected by RealtyTrac, an online company that compiles foreclosure property data.

It's the lowest annual total since 2008, when this area had 430 filings. The peak year came in 2010, when Whatcom County had 863 filings.

The decline in Whatcom County was different from the Washington state trend. Last year 34,117 foreclosure filings were made in Washington, up 12.8 percent in the past year and ranking 11th highest in the U.S.

The national annual total was down 26 percent, dropping to its lowest total since 2007.

While it's become less of a problem, distressed property will continue to be at an elevated level locally for a few more years, said Lylene Johnson, a real estate agent at The Muljat Group who compiles Whatcom County real estate data.

"We aren't seeing the big chunks of distressed property anymore," Johnson said. She added that Whatcom County still has its share of properties where the owner owes more on the mortgage than the house is worth, particularly among people who bought at the housing market peak in 2006.

According to the data, one in 190 Whatcom County households received a filing in 2013, ranking it 19th highest among Washington state counties. Washington had one in 84 households receiving a filing, while nationally it was one in 96 households.

Florida had the highest foreclosure rate in 2013, followed by Nevada and Illinois. Miami had the highest foreclosure rate among metro areas with a population of more than 200,000.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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