Area foreclosure rate dips in April

The number of foreclosures in Sedgwick County during April dipped significantly from the previous three months of 2010.

There were 382 foreclosure sales scheduled for March, 332 in February and 400 in January, according to the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office.

But in April, the number of foreclosures scheduled was 282, a 26 percent drop from March.

The foreclosure rate had risen in a virtually unbroken upswing from 0.93 percent of all outstanding mortgages in January 2009 to 1.57 percent in March 2010, according to RealtyTrac, a national real estate date firm.

It's too early to say whether the April drop signals the end of the rise in foreclosures, said Stan Longhofer, director of the Center for Real Estate at Wichita State University.

But, he said, he does expect foreclosures to decline before the economy recovers and employment starts to rise.

The reason most people go into foreclosure, he said, is a combination of having little or no equity in their homes and losing their jobs.

Foreclosures start to rise a few months after layoffs hit, as the homeowners struggle, and fail, to keep up with their payments. By not having any equity, these owners have little incentive to fight to stay in the house.

But there is a limited number of such people in Sedgwick County, Longhofer said. As they go into foreclosure, the rate swells. But within a few months, their numbers will start to drop because home values in Sedgwick County are stable.

In places such as California and Florida, home values keep pushing new people into the at-risk pool for foreclosure.

"You will see foreclosures numbers start to go down before we start to see a recovery," Longhofer said.