Carson City foreclosures break record | NevadaAppeal.com
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Carson City foreclosures break record

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

The small office building Robert Coop bought four years ago is nearly empty. The 15 people he once employed at his home appraisal business are gone.

Coop said he can barely make minimum wage with the work he gets. He had 70 contracts in December 2006, compared to only six so far this month.

Behind on mortgage payments, Coop doesn’t want to contemplate losing his house to foreclosure. Thinking it, he says, may make it come true.

“I don’t see how I can hold on,” he said.

The city has seen more home foreclosures this year than ever before, according to City Assessor Dave Dawley. The dive since the housing bubble burst has been precipitous. The city had three home foreclosures in 2005; there have been more than 150 this year.

Southern Nevada continues to drive the state’s status of highest foreclosure rate in the country, according to online housing researcher RealtyTrac. Las Vegas has the second highest rate of any city.

But Carson City is in the middle of the worst housing market real estate professionals have ever seen. Home sales are the lowest in 20 years. The average home sale price has dropped $25,000 compared to three years ago.

“Yeah,” Dawley said, “things are going nuts.”

The problem for many people in Carson City is that they owe more on their homes than the homes are worth, according to Jim Wilson, owner of Century 21 Jim Wilson Realty in Carson City.

Some of those people used their homes to get loans, he said, or had mortgage rates that started low and later spiked. Wilson said he expected the years after the housing boom to be bad, but not this bad.

“I always tell people it’s going to be a cold winter,” he said, “and I’m not talking about the weather.”

Coop said he’s been trying to work with his lenders, but they aren’t helping much.

“They squeeze you and they squeeze you and pretty soon you’re going to walk,” he said.

But the market has also hurt lenders who are trying to be flexible with loans, said Randy Kuckenmeister, owner of Sierra Financial Mortgage in Carson City.

Credit is tight, he said, and lending standards are strict.

Kuckenmeister said lenders used to have to fight to keep up with loans, but now they have to fight to get work.

“It’s like the faucet has turned off,” he said.

Tina Matranga said she made a mistake when she took out a second loan a few years ago to buy a second home.

Matranga, who works in Carson City, said she was told that the house in Reno would pay for itself. Home prices are rising, she was told, so she didn’t have to worry.

“I wish I had one friend saying, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it,'” she said.

Matranga lost her job and found the value of her homes had fallen. One of the houses went into foreclosure.

She said she never thought she’d be in this situation.

“A year and a half later, I’m going, ‘Oh my God,'” she said.

Coop said that, until recently, business had been steady since he moved to Carson City more than 20 years ago. He’s worked hard and always paid his bills, he said, so facing foreclosure on his house is frustrating and embarrassing.

“I don’t want to lose it,” he said. “It’s my home.”

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.