Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fargo Women: ND foreclosures second lowest in nation


Fargo, ND - North Dakota had the second lowest foreclosure rate in the nation in october, according to RealtyTrac.com, which tracks foreclosures nationally and state by state.

In the first half of 2007, North Dakota had the third lowest foreclosure rate, slightly higher than South Dakota and Vermont.

Tim Karsky, commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions, which regulates state charter banks, credit unions and money brokers, among others, said there don't seem to be a lot of the troubled sub-prime mortgages out there.

"We know they're being made," he said. "We've got some companies that specialize in making loans and helping people make loans that have less than average credit."

But he said the real estate market is still healthy enough to help people get out of those loans if they need to.

And, unlike a few of the troubled states, the number of lenders in North Dakota continues to grow:As of Aug. 31, 404 lenders were licensed in North Dakota this year, compared to 394 last year, said Bob Entringer, assistant commissioner.

That's compared to 381 as of Aug. 31 in 2005.

"We have some of the companies that have taken bankruptcy and have surrendered their licenses," Karsky said. "There's still companies getting into the market. For some of them, they still see an opportunity to make loans."

Joe Sheehan, a mortgage broker with Heartland Mortgage Co., agreed with the assessment that North Dakota borrowers aren't in trouble.

He said the state has had a lot of responsible lenders taking borrowers' situations into account before handing out home loans.

"We never had the risky loans in our market," he said. "Probably the worst loans that anyone did was interest-only."

Which, in turn, bodes well for the real estate market.

"Analyzing national real estate activity is like asking for a national weather forecast; it will vary in different areas and parts of the country. Like the weather, real estate is local,"said John VanMiddlesworth, former president of the Bismarck-Mandan Board of Realtors, in a release. "Real estate continues to prove to be a smart investment, and interest rates are favorable for consumers. The real estate market here is good."

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