Foreclosures again above 300 statewide
By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Andrew Gomes
Foreclosure filings in Hawai'i remained above 300 for a sixth consecutive month in January, according to California-based real estate research firm RealtyTrac.
The company said it counted 337 filings, up more than double from 123 in the same month last year.
The filings — mostly foreclosure sale notices — indicate that alarming numbers of homeowners continue to be faced with losing their homes to lenders as the economy and property values in Hawai'i continue to weaken.
However, January's count was the lowest since August, when there were 336 filings. Between September and December, the monthly foreclosure filing total ranged between 393 and 594.
Until August, when national and global financial markets came unglued, the average number of filings per month last year was 149.
By county, Honolulu had 152 foreclosure filings, or one per 2,203 households. Compared with other local counties, that was the highest number of filings but the lowest rate per households.
The Big Island had 79 filings, or one per 983 households. Maui had 78 filings, or one per 832 households. Kaua'i had 28 filings, or one per 1,043 households.
Hawai'i's foreclosure rate equated to one filing per 1,504 households, which was better than the national average of one filing per 466 households.
Nationally, there were 274,399 foreclosure filings last month, up 18 percent from a year ago.
RealtyTrac said some factors that have muted the increase in the nation's foreclosure rate include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac extending a moratorium on foreclosure sales through the end of January, and moratoriums imposed by lawmakers in some states.
For instance, Florida, which had the nation's fourth-highest foreclosure rate last month, in December announced a voluntary 45-day freeze on all new foreclosure actions and scheduling of foreclosure sales.
Hawai'i's Legislature is considering a number of bills that would postpone foreclosure activity.
James Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO, has said foreclosure prevention programs implemented to date haven't had any real success stopping the foreclosure tsunami other than delaying foreclosure proceedings.
Hawai'i's foreclosure rate in January was lower than 29 other states. Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate, at one filing per 76 households, or a total of 14,444 filings. The lowest rate was in Vermont, where there were six foreclosure flings, or one for every 51,906 households.
Some observers question the accuracy of the RealtyTrac reports because the company includes commercial property in its count and doesn't collect data from some rural areas.
RealtyTrac said it collects data from more than 2,200 counties nationwide, representing about 90 percent of the U.S. population.
Despite the reservations, local observers say it's obvious that foreclosures are rising as the Hawai'i economy slows and unemployment grows.
The state's rate of foreclosure filings since August stopped being below the 300 to 400 monthly foreclosures seen in Hawai'i during the mid-1990s housing slump.
With modest decreases in property values in many parts of the state and a harsh slowdown in home sales, it's become more difficult for owners to sell their homes if they have trouble making mortgage payments.
Reach Andrew Gomes at firstname.lastname@example.org.