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Foreclosures fall

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Foreclosures in the state have fallen to the lowest level since 2006, the Minnesota Homeownership Center reported this month.

There were 17,895 homes sold at sheriffs’ sales in 2012, which amounted to a 16 percent decrease compared to 2011. But the decrease in foreclosures wasn’t as big outside the Twin Cities metro area. The Twin Cities had an average reduction of 19 percent in foreclosures, while greater Minnesota’s drop was 11 percent.

Foreclosure numbers dropped in five of the seven area counties between 2011 and 2012:

■ Aitkin County — 4 percent increase — from 71 to 74.

■ Cass County — 20 percent decrease — from 123 to 99.

■ Crow Wing County — 22 percent decrease — from 358 to 281.

■ Mille Lacs County — 16 percent decrease — from 193 to 163.

■ Morrison County — 15 percent decrease — from 109 to 93.

■ Todd County — 3 percent increase — from 77 to 79.

■ Wadena County — 24 percent decrease — from 45 to 34.

Crow Wing County, with the highest number of foreclosures in the seven-county area, was one of eight counties in the state with foreclosures ranging between 251 and 500 in 2012. Mille Lacs County was one of two in the state with 2012 foreclosures between 151 and 250.

The vast majority — 69 counties — were below 150 foreclosures in 2012, with 40 of those counties posting 50 or fewer foreclosures.

“We continue to see improvement in the housing market and we know that our foreclosure prevention efforts in Minnesota, combined with improvements in how banks and lenders deal with struggling homeowners are having a positive impact on the number of foreclosures,” said Julie Gugin, executive director of the Minnesota Homeownership Center, in a news release. “While we’re certainly moving in the right direction, we can’t lose sight of the fact that the number is still three times higher than it was before the crisis began.”

Crow Wing County had 17 foreclosures in January. That number isn’t a drop from a year ago but there are fewer foreclosures waiting in the wings compared to previous starts to the year.

There were 14 foreclosures in January of 2012 and 27 in January of 2011. This past month, the notices of pendency to indicate a foreclosure was in the works topped out at 27. Compare that to 36 in January of 2012 or 40 in January of 2011 and a downward trend is indicated.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis outlined the foreclosure process. Homeowners in trouble will normally receive a notice of a pending foreclosure 30 days after defaulting on the mortgage. A foreclosure notice is published in a newspaper six weeks before the sale. The home resident will get a foreclosure notice four weeks before the sale. Homeowners normally have a redemption period of six months. But if they abandon the home, the court may reduce the redemption period to five weeks. Normally the process takes 290 days from the initial default.

The statewide foreclosure report was based on data from each county and funded by the Minnesota Homeownership Center, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, Family Housing Fund and Minnesota Housing.

The Minnesota Homeownership Center encourages struggling homeowners to seek help from a certified foreclosure prevention specialist. For more information, go to or call 866-462-6466.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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