Foreclosures on hold for now; hundreds in process on Peninsula

Owners of 415 homes and vacant parcels in Clallam and Jefferson counties are undergoing foreclosure proceedings as a statewide moratorium on evictions approaches an Oct. 31 deadline, a Port Angeles real estate broker said.

Patti Morris, who manages properties for property management companies, said on Oct. 6 if and when Gov. Jay Inslee ends his COVID-19-related suspension of evictions on renters and homeowners, it will gradually lower prices and ease the pent-up demand being experienced by seekers of new homes.

“You’ll have 10 percent, maybe 20 percent properties, is what you’ll see on a regular basis coming on the market,” Morris said in an interview.

Morris said during a Zoom presentation at the Clallam County Economic Development Council’s weekly “Coffee with Colleen” program that the owners of occupied and vacant properties that are delinquent on monthly loan payments have declined by about 20 in the last two weeks.

But they had increased by about 200 since Inslee announced his eviction moratorium in March 2020, Morris said. That moratorium has been most recently extended through Oct. 31 to allow more time for distribution of rental assistance, he said on Sept. 24.

Most mortgages Morris handles are held by the federally-insured government under the Federal Housing Administration or U.S. Department of Agriculture loan programs, not banks, and are residential, not commercial properties, she said.

There are 158 properties in foreclosure proceedings in Port Angeles, 110 in Sequim, 92 in Jefferson County, and 55 on the West End west of Beaver, Morris said.

Morris, a broker with JACE Real Estate, said in an interview that their average values are $200,000 to $400,000 in Port Angeles and Sequim, $300,000 in Jefferson County, including Port Townsend, and $150,000 in Clallam’s West End.

Morris said she did not know if property owners are delinquent on their mortgages due to COVID-19-related issues such as a lost job.

She said it takes months for the owner of a foreclosed home to have to vacate their property and that the federal government and banks will try to work with the property owner on a payment plan.

Evictions have not been allowed under the moratorium unless a landlord is moving back onto the property or they are selling it, she said.

“There has not been a lot of those,” she said.

Morris said property owners are often delinquent on reverse mortgages, a loan for seniors 62 and older that allows them to convert equity into cash income with no monthly payments and no interest on the owed lump sum.

“We have reverse mortgages where we have elderly people who will borrow a lump sum on their home,” she said.

“I see a lot of reverse mortgages that foreclose, for whatever reason, whether one spouse dies or they both die, and the heirs do not want to take the opportunity to take the home back. I see that quite often,” Morris said.

“They don’t quite understand those mortgages, and there’s triggers,” she added.

“One is that, within six months, if you decide not to live there, within six months, that loan becomes due.

Morris has some properties that have been under foreclosure proceedings for two years, she said.

Morris speculated that companies won’t list foreclosed properties en masse immediately once the moratorium ends, she added.

“They want the most out of the property as well,” she said.

“From the time that the moratorium is over, there is going to be a slow process to pick up from where they left off.

“Many will be starting over in the foreclosure process, and I don’t think that we will see much of an impact until the first of the year because of the 60- to 90-day time it generally takes them to see these moving back into the market.”

Morris said she hopes delinquent property owners who will realize they need to become current and negotiate a payment plan as the moratorium ends.

“We’ve gone a long time with extensions, and I think people are in the mentality where they think there will be more extensions,” she said.

“I’m not thinking that for this one, but I thought that for the last one.”

Free advice is available for property owners who are delinquent on their mortgages at parkviewservices.org.

A video of the EDC presentation is at chooseclallamfirst.com by clicking on “Coffee With Colleen.”

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