Tuesday, December 22, 2009


LAKEWOOD — Gov. Bill Ritter and state lawmakers today announced a major step forward in tackling Colorado's high foreclosure rate, unveiling legislation that will speed up the sale of abandoned homes and protect neighborhoods from vandalism and declining property values.


Speaking at a neighborhood community center, Gov. Ritter said the legislation will cut in half the time it takes lenders to sell an abandoned home that's in foreclosure. This will allow those homes to be re-occupied more quickly so they don't become a safety hazard, a magnet for vandalism and other crimes and a drain on nearby property values.


The bill will be co-sponsored in the upcoming 2010 legislative session by Reps. Jeanne Labuda and Dianne Primavera and Sen. Mike Johnston.


"When I took office three years ago, Colorado was already suffering from the foreclosure crisis now gripping the rest of the nation," Gov. Ritter said. "But working with our partners in the legislature, we took immediate action, including enacting new laws and strengthening the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline.


"Today, Colorado no longer has the worst foreclosure rate in the country," Gov. Ritter said. "Our strategies are working, but our work is far from finished. The legislation we're announcing today is the next major step forward to help protect neighborhoods, keep families safe and maintain property values."


The legislation will allow lenders to accelerate the amount of time it takes to sell an abandoned home that's already in foreclosure. While many foreclosure sales take seven to nine months, current law calls for a minimum four-month sale process; the proposed bill would cut that in half to two months. This would dramatically reduce the amount of time an abandoned home would sit unattended and unoccupied.


"Abandoned homes facing foreclosure are frequently an eyesore in the neighborhood, and bring down property values of all homes in the area," said Rep. Labuda. "The current foreclosure process can take months and sometimes years to complete, all while the property sits abandoned. One or two bad homes on a block can certainly destroy a block. This legislation will get homes more quickly occupied, and ensure that even those neighborhoods hit hardest by foreclosure remain vibrant, good places to raise a family and buy a home."


"Homes that sit abandoned and are awaiting foreclosure lower the livability of neighborhoods, reduce property values and marketability, and can increase crime," Rep. Primavera said. "By cutting the foreclosure proceeding time in half, we can protect our communities by ensuring a great quality of life for families especially during this tough economic time."


"We've all seen the negative impacts foreclosed and abandoned homes are having on Colorado's economy and neighborhoods," Sen. Johnston said. "By speeding up the process to sell abandoned homes and getting these homes back on the market, we can prevent crime and declining property values in these neighborhoods and make sure abandoned properties don't take whole neighborhoods down with them."