New auto title transactions for the first quarter of this year have risen while mortgage foreclosure rates are down in Lucas County compared to the first quarter of last year, according to J. Bernie Quilter, Lucas County Clerk of Courts.
The statistics are for new and used auto dealer title transactions. Compared to the first quarter of 2013, the county saw an increase of 346 new auto title transactions and 596 used auto transactions, said Quilter.
The county has seen an increase since 2010.
“In auto sales, there’s been an upward trend,” Quilter told The Press on Tuesday.
“Lucas County hit its lowest point in 2009. From that point on, it’s gotten better.”
With increased transactions comes more revenue.
“In terms of total sales tax dollars collected and paid to Lucas County so far this year, we have collected $2,531,284.34. Compare that to $2,492,262.52 in sales tax dollars collected in 2013, which is an increase of $39,021.82 in the first quarter of 2014,” said Quilter.
Total dollars spent purchasing dealer new, used and casual auto sales (sales between individuals) for the first quarter this year show an increase of $15,466,430.02 over the first quarter last year.
“Clearly, these numbers point to a continually improving economy in Lucas County and to an increase in consumer confidence,” said Quilter. “People are starting to get comfortable with the economy.”
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, anxiety regarding future terrorism may have had a chilling effect in the number of auto title transactions, he said.
“In 2002, there were 139,000 auto title transactions. After that, from 2003 to 2009, we started going down,” he said. In 2003, new auto title transactions fell to 136,000; in 2004 133,000; in 2005 128,000; in 2006 119,000; in 2007 114,000; in 2008 113,000 and in 2009 to 101,000. “After that, the economy starts to pick back up: 104,000 title transactions in 2010, 108,000 in 2011, 112,000 in 2012, and 116,000 in 2013. And we’re well on our way up this year.”
While new and used car dealer sales transactions in the county climbed, casual sales dipped in the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarter of last year, he said.
“There were 999 less title transactions this quarter compared to last year’s first quarter, which is good because that means sales of new and used cars from the dealer went up,” he said.
Another sign the economy is picking up is the number of mortgage foreclosure filings that have steadily declined in Lucas County, said Quilter.
Mortgage foreclosure filings for the first quarter this year totaled 357 compared to 549 in the first quarter of last year, according to Quilter.
“While mortgage foreclosures are still of concern, the fact that the first quarter of 2014 is showing the number of foreclosures decreasing clearly indicates an improving housing market. These statistics clearly indicate that Lucas County continues to show growth in both the public and private sectors and with companies beginning to expand their workforces, consumer confidence and a healthier job market point to an improved and overall positive outlook for Lucas County residents,” he said.
Foreclosures in Lucas County reached a high of 4,160 in 2009, he said. That number dropped to a total of 1,912 filings in 2013. In 2011 there were 2,946 filings, followed by 2,789 in 2012.
“For the first quarter of this year, mortgage foreclosure filings were 357 compared to 549 last year. We haven’t seen numbers like that since 2003,” he said. Now, people could say we don’t have any more homes to foreclose on, and that could be. But these are positive numbers. People are starting to get comfortable with the economy.”
Another reason for the dip in mortgage foreclosure filings, he said, is there are more programs available to help homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes.
“When people got their foreclosure notices, they didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Today, we have a foreclosure magistrate who tries to work with the home owners and banks. There’s all kinds of help out there. Back in 2006 and 2007, we were putting together information for people to let them know there is help out there. When I sent a foreclosure note out to people, we were also inserting a “first call for help,” so people would know what to do. There were some who are too proud to make that call for help. But every tool helps.”