Foreclosure activity in Ohio and throughout the region increased in 2012 as lenders pushed a backlog of legal action against borrowers through the courts.
Ohio was one of 25 states last year that saw more default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions filed than in 2011, real estate data firm RealtyTrac said in a report released Thursday. Ohio activity increased almost 13 percent to 89,584 filings last year, compared with 79,422 foreclosure filings in 2011, RealtyTrac said.
Clark County saw foreclosure activity for all of last year rise more than 16 percent to 1,164 filings of some kind, RealtyTrac said.
However, Champaign County had foreclosure activity drop more than 55 percent to 33 properties with foreclosure proceedings last year.
“This is happening because there is still a backlog of delayed distress in Ohio, the unintended consequence of well-intentioned efforts to help as many homeowners avoid foreclosure as well as a judicial foreclosure process that is more susceptible to delays,” said Daren Blomquist, spokesman for RealtyTrac, in an email.
The worst of the foreclosure crisis has passed, Blomquist said, “but there is still a fair amount of distress in the housing market caused by the housing boom and bust that needs to be worked out before things are back to normal. Many of these homeowners are folks who stopped making mortgage payments quite some time ago, even years ago, and finally are being pushed into the foreclosure process and even foreclosed on.”
More local people lost their homes in 2012 than 2011, but not to the same level experienced during the worst of the national economic recession. Foreclosure filings reached more than 1,500 actions against property owners in 2008 in Clark County, according to RealtyTrac data.
Foreclosure cases in Ohio must go through the court system. It’s up to lenders to file the initial complaint for a default judgment and for an order of sale to move the process along. Mediation programs, a bankruptcy filing, or agreements on loan modifications and short sales all add to the time it takes to foreclose, real estate experts say.
Ohio foreclosure cases completed in the fourth quarter 2012 took an average 564 days to process, between one to two years from the time a lender first files a complaint to when the property was sold in a sheriff’s auction, RealtyTrac said.
Andrew Neuhauser is a staff attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc., which has Toledo and Dayton offices covering a 32-county area, including Springfield and Urbana. ABLE represents homeowners going through foreclosure.
Neuhauser said they continue to see foreclosures with people having trouble keeping the same income. Homeowners are struggling because their hours were cut at work or a job was lost in the household, he said.
“Until we see the unemployment rate go down even further than it has here in Ohio, the foreclosures are going to remain fairly steady,” he said.