Home foreclosure filings last year increased in 62 of 88 Ohio counties and jumped by double digits in 27 counties, according to a review by Policy Matters Ohio of court records.
Lucas County ranked second behind Cuyahoga County in the number of filings per 1,000 population – 9.86 - or 4,359 filings among a population of 441,910.
“Foreclosure filings are high and growing in urban, rural, and suburban counties alike,” the report says. “However, in 2008, urban counties no longer stood out as totally dominating the list of hardest hit counties. Among the top 10 counties in filings per person in 2008 were five large urban counties, while in the previous year large urban counties held nine of the 10 spots for highest foreclosure filing levels. Nevertheless, as in 2007, the largest 10 urban counties were all in the top 20 counties of foreclosures per per person.”
Of the 10 largest urban counties, six saw growth rates higher than the state average of 1.2 percent, led by Lucas County at 15 percent.
But the problem appears to be spreading and counties with the highest foreclosure growth are not confined geographically.
More troubling for this region, five northwest counties, including Ottawa County, are now in the top 10 of those with the fasting growing foreclosure rate from 2007 to ’08.
There were 273 filings last year in Ottawa County, compared to 211 in 2007 – an increase of just over 29 percent.
Other northwest counties in the fast growth list are: Allen - 39 percent, 715 in ’07 and 996 in ’08; Putnam - 28 percent, 81 in ’07 and 104 in ’08; Van Wert – 24 percent, 162 in ’07 and 201 in ’08, and Henry – 22 percent, 120 in ’07 and 146 in ’08.
The other counties, Meigs, Adams, Noble, Hocking, and Pike are in the southern Appalachian region of Ohio.
“The 18 counties with population between 100,000 and 240,000 saw overall foreclosure filing growth of 6.4 percent in 2008,” the report says, “The 60 counties with a population of below 100,000 saw overall foreclosure filing growth of 3.3 percent. Of those counties, the 40 counties with populations below 50,000 saw an overall foreclosure filing growth of 4.9 percent in 2008.”
A group of volunteer professionals and elected officials in Ottawa County continues its effort to educate the public about the foreclosure process.
Bob Hille, county treasurer and a volunteer with FIX (Foreclosure Intervention Experts) said the group has added financial literacy to its education agenda. FIX members are assisting Port Clinton High School administrators in the preparation of a class for the next school year to cover topics such as mortgage lending, including some of the pitfalls and scams.
“As for the foreclosures, “ Mr. Hille said, “the most difficult task that we face is locating the `target market audience.’ Because we may be looking for 300-400 property owners out of 37,000 parcels in the county. So we continue to look for ways to get the word out there is help.”
He said persons facing foreclosure should call the United Way 2-1-1 phone line for assistance.
Ohio’s national ranking in new foreclosures has slightly dropped but the state still remains near the top, according to a survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association conducted in the fourth quarter of last year. The survey found new foreclosure proceedings were started on 1.12 percent of home loans, ranking Ohio ninth in the country.
The Policy Matters study acknowledges there is no perfect measure of foreclosures. The filing data in the report captures the process at one stage but don’t exactly measure the number of families who actually lose their homes to foreclosure.
The report uses data from the Ohio Supreme Court – which are filed by county common pleas courts - and information compiled by Policy Matters Ohio from the two federal district courts in Ohio.
A bill introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives in February would require a six-month moratorium on residential mortgage foreclosure judgments and sales of occupied properties. It would also authorize the court system during the next three years to modify a mortgage agreement if beneficial to both parties.
It would also establish the Foreclosure Prevention Revolving Trust Fund in the state treasury with money in the fund to be distributed to counties, the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, and the Division of Financial Institutions of the Department of Commerce to provide grants for preventing and mitigating foreclosure problems.
Another bill would allow renters more rights when their property goes through foreclosure.
Mr. Hille said a provision in one of the bills requiring the mortgage holder to notify the county prior to any filing could help groups like FIX locate home owners in need of assistance.