A.V. FORECLOSURES RISE 15% IN '96 : FASTER ACTION TAKEN BY LENDERS CITED AS POSSIBLE CAUSE OF CLIMB.
Foreclosures in the Antelope Valley increased nearly 15 percent during the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 1995, but the higher numbers may be due to lenders ``cleaning'' their books of bad loans, an analyst said Tuesday.
Lenders foreclosed on 2,638 homes through September compared to 2,298 through the first nine months of 1995. The total value of the foreclosures was $260.5 million, compared to $262.5 million in 1995, according to a TRW REDI Property Data, a real estate tracking firm based in Yorba Linda.
``The number of foreclosures are dependent on how quickly lenders move on a defaulted loan,'' said Nima Nattagh, a TRW REDI analyst. ``This may be a reflection that lenders are starting to clean up their books of bad loans and not necessarily a reflection of the number of people experiencing financial difficulties.''
The Antelope Valley's foreclosure numbers are in line with the rest of Los Angeles County, Nattagh said. Countywide, the number of foreclosures climbed 17 percent to 24,533.
``There's still a lot of foreclosures coming down the pipeline,'' said Walt Troth, a Lancaster real estate broker. ``If there are no major changes in the political scene or the economic scene, we will continue to see what we have now for the next year or two.''
Antelope Valley homes have dropped about 30 percent to 35 percent in value since the real estate market began to tumble in 1990, after the boom of the 1980s. The price of a home has dropped from $90 to $100 a square foot to about $50 to $60 a square foot, Troth said.
``On the upside, the affordability index is coming down to the point where people can afford homes,'' Troth said.
Despite the gloomy foreclosure numbers, there are signs that the Antelope Valley's economic fortunes are turning for the better, officials said.
On Oct. 28, state officials announced that the Antelope Valley received a conditional endorsement to become an enterprise zone, able to offer tax credits and other incentives to attract business.
The designation means businesses in the Antelope Valley enterprise zone will be eligible for tax credits for sales or use taxes paid on the first $20 million of equipment or machinery purchased, deductions for interest income earned on investments, and credits that employees may take on their individual tax returns for wages earned from a firm located in the zone.
Companies also will be eligible for a hiring credit for wages paid to employees hired through specific programs during the first five years on the job - a potential credit of up to $19,000.
``It'll be huge. It will produce tangible results for the next 15 years,'' said Vern Lawson Jr., executive director of the Lancaster Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit organization working to diversify the region's economy. ``I don't think people recognize the value of having the state as a player in economic development.''
Foreclosures in the Antelope Valley increased nearly 15 percent during the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 1995.
Foreclosures 2,298 2,638
Value $262.5 $260.5
Values are in millions
Source:TRW REDI Property Data
Chart: (Color) FORECLOSURES (See text)