Number of Foreclosures Hits Record in Clark County

Springfield News-Sun - December 3, 2005

Higher Quality Properties Being Auctioned
by Natalie Morales

Springfield News-Sun

Clark County hit an all-time high in foreclosed properties for auction Friday with 71, including those for delinquent taxes, up for bidding.

Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly, who also serves as the county’s foreclosure auctioneer, moved the auction from its usual location in front of the stairs on the first floor of the Clark County Courthouse to the second floor courtroom to accommodate the large crowd that gathered.

“We’ll stay in the courthouse for the rest of the year, but I’m thinking we might have to find a place to relocate the auctions in ’06,” he said.

The appraised amount for the 71 foreclosures, including 34 for delinquent taxes, was more than $3 million, according to the sheriff’s office. But not all properties are sold.

Of the 71 properties for auction, bidders bought 25 – 13 of which were delinquent tax sales, according to the sheriff’s office.

Kelly said when he first began auctioning county properties 19 years ago, the auctions were only once every six to eight weeks.

Over the years, the number of properties increased, and the auctions became more frequent – once a month, bi-weekly and now weekly.

The county’s general fund receives 1.5 percent of the purchase price for auctioned properties, excluding delinquent taxes, Kelly said.

Friday, $937,169 was collected, meaning $14,057 will go toward the general fund, he said.

Clark County has the state’s fourth highest foreclosure rate, according to a report from Policy Matters Ohio, a Cleveland-based research institute. Ohio has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

“We’re one of the leaders it’s not a good kind of recognition,” Kelly said.

Last year, the county recorded 1,041 foreclosures, collecting about $49 million, Kelly said.

As of the last week in November, 967 forecloses were recorded this year, totaling about $50 million, he said.

“We think part of the reason there’s a slight decrease in foreclosures lately is because of the new bankruptcy laws,” Kelly said. “But we’re expecting a big spike come February with Christmas bills due and job losses.”

The properties being auctioned are better quality and increasing in value, causing the collected cost to increase while the number of properties decreased, he said.

The highest priced property sold for $295,000 Friday and included a Springfield home the purchaser planned to move into.

“People used to think it was confined to one part of Springfield and what we’re finding is that it’s all over,” Kelly said, adding that properties were sold in almost every township Friday.

A variety of patrons packed in for the standing-room-only bidding, including investors, bank representatives and individuals seeking future homes for their families.

“My whole goal in being aggressive and trying to sell these properties is restoring neighborhoods,” Kelly said.

He said it’s always better for individuals to purchase the properties than for banks to buy them back because the individuals are more likely to attend to maintenance immediately.

“As quickly as we possibly can, we want families to move in and turn these around because they affect the neighborhoods,” Kelly said.

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