Walt Cook, The Union Democrat

Foothills property foreclosures continued their rapid pace in 2010.

In Tuolumne County, 2010 saw 1,762 foreclosures. That exceeds 2009 - a multi-decade high for the county - which tallied 1,657 foreclosures.

The figures include the three stages of the foreclosure process: Notice of default, notice of trustee and the issuance of a trustee deed. Of those figures, 343 trustee deeds were issued in 2009 and 431 in 2010.

Foreclosures also remained high in Calaveras County, which was hit

even harder than Tuolumne County when the housing bubble burst in 2007

and 2008.

Nationally, 2010 was a big year for foreclosures as well. The year

saw more than 1 million people lose their home. In all, there were

nearly 2.9 million foreclosure notices filed in 2010, according to

online data tracker RealtyTrac.

RealtyTrac noted that the foreclosure figures for 2010 would have

been higher had banks not stalled foreclosures due to the

"robo-signing" scandal, in which some big banks neglected to do proper

paperwork, which has brought the ownership of certain homes into


Local figures show that foreclosures did decrease in October,

November and December, compared to figures from the previous months.

Tuolumne County saw 130 foreclosures in December, compared to December

2009's 161.

As bad as 2010 was for real estate, experts say things are likely to get worse in 2011.

RealtyTrac predicts that 2011 will see 1.2 million homes

repossessed by lenders. But, the group says, 2011 will be the peak.

Part of the reason for the foreclosure uptick, RealtyTrac says, is the

foreclosures are expected to resume at their previous pace once the

robo-signing issue is resolved.

Tuolumne County real estate broker Jim Hildreth thinks that view is

optimistic. He's skeptical of recent reports that the economy is


"It's not rosy out there," he said.

"Are these foreclosures going away? No," he added. "How long will

it be? Conservatively, probably another four or five years."

Contact Walt Cook at wcook@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4530.