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Real estate market stabilizing?

Economists say that before the construction industry can recover, the large number of excess properties produced by the recent recession must be sold, including those picked up by banks in foreclosure proceedings.

Now it seems things may finally be moving in that direction - at least in Oregon.

Home foreclosures in Oregon continued to level off in September, with big declines in year-to-date figures and even bigger drops in year-over-year numbers, according to figures released by Gorilla Capital, a Eugene-based finance company.

According to the figures, in 15 of the Oregon counties where the company operates, there were 828 notices of default in September 2011 - a statistically insignificant 1 percent increase from August 2011, when 818 notices of default were filed. A notice of default is the official beginning of the foreclosure process.

Company statistics also showed a decrease in notices of default from September 2010 to September 2011. According to the company, 2011 year-to-date total of 9,740 new foreclosure actions represents a decline of 28 percent from 2010, when 13,566 notices of default were filed during the same nine-month period.

When comparing the month-to-month foreclosure numbers, most Oregon counties showed decreases from August 2011 to September 2011. In the counties where notices of default went up, all but two recorded increases of less than 10 percent, the statistics show.

'What we are seeing is a leveling off of notices of default filings,' said John Helmick, Gorilla Capital CEO.

The release of the figures coincides with another local large-scale auction of bank-owned properties. This one involves 70 properties in Oregon and California, including both residential and commercial properties in the Portland area. The Oregon portion is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. in Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront, 1401 S.W. Naito Pkwy.

Previous auctions in Portland have significantly reduced the vacancies in such financially-troubled properties as the South Waterfront condominium towers.

This auction is being conducted by the Kennedy Wilson Auction Group. Senior Managing Director Marty Clouser says many of the properties were acquired by banks through foreclosures or pre-foreclosure proceedings. He says the banks are eager to sell them and avoid additional costs.

'Additionally, this sale creates an opportunity for buyers to acquire the properties at auction prices,' says Clouser.

The local housing market is still struggling to recover, however. According to the most recent report by the Regional Multiple Listing Service, August homes sales increased 5.6 percent over July and 30.7 percent over the same month last year. But August sales prices fell slightly compared to July and were 10 percent lower than a year ago.