Santa Clara County's High End Houses Hit in Foreclosure Crisis

Santa Clara County's High End Houses Hit in Foreclosure Crisis

The Mercury News

The foreclosure crisis, now well into its third year, has moved upscale as a growing share of people in homes worth at least a million dollars fall behind on their mortgage payments.

Those upper-end houses accounted for nearly 6 percent of the notices of default — signifying the owner is three months or more behind on payments — sent out by lenders to Santa Clara County homeowners so far this year. In San Mateo County, about 4 percent of the million-dollar-plus houses received notices of default this year.

The Santa Clara County numbers are up from 3.3 percent in 2008 and 5.2 percent last year. Job loss and mortgage debt began to crush the high end in 2009, when 811 valley homes worth a million dollars or more received default notices, according to an analysis of foreclosure data. That compares with 397 default notices in 2008 and 207 in 2007.

“One of the toughest places to be right now is at the higher end,” said Sean O’Toole of ForeclosureRadar, which compiled the data for the Mercury News. “There’s less credit available and fewer options of selling or refinancing.”

There have been 315 default notices sent out so far this year to upscale houses. The number has been dropping this year because overall foreclosure sales have been dropping, O’Toole said, but on a percentage basis high-end notices are up this year.

In San Mateo County, there have been about 600 default notices filed with the original loan amount of $1 million or more since the beginning of 2008, according to MDA DataQuick, a real estate data analysis firm. That breaks down to roughly 73 so far this year, 219 last year and 316 in 2008. There were 48 in 2007, according to Andrew LePage of DataQuick.

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