Ohio Foreclosures Decline; Many Still “Underwater”

Public News Service - April 4, 2012
   

Mary Kuhlman

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new report offers some cautious optimism about housing insecurity in the Buckeye State.

According to the group Policy Matters Ohio, the number of foreclosures in Ohio is down for the second year in a row – a 16 percent decrease from last year. While that’s good news, says report author David Rothstein, the group’s director for asset building, additional housing data points to a long, slow recovery.

“We’re really not out of the woods yet, in terms of more foreclosures to come. We found that nearly one in three mortgages in Ohio is underwater, meaning they have negative equity in their home. They’re really at a tipping point, and could be very close to foreclosure.”

Mediation and foreclosure prevention programs are reducing the number of people losing their homes, Rothstein says, although he adds that more needs to be done.

At the federal level, the report recommends increased funding for housing-modification programs and extending the Mortgage Debt Relief Act. At the state level, it suggests legislation to regulate mortgage servicers and ban foreclosure-rescue scams. 

Last year saw one foreclosure filing for every 71 housing units in Ohio, according to the report. Rothstein says that rate has slowed, but it was still two times higher than it had been a decade earlier, in every Ohio county.

“This has been going on for so long that it’s really crippled communities. The cost of vacant and abandoned properties are way up, and there’s an estimate that nearly 100,000 properties in Ohio are vacant and abandoned, and need to be demolished.”

The report found high foreclosure rates in urban, rural and suburban counties alike, with Cuyahoga County topping the list for the sixth year in a row. Overall, Ohio ranks eighth in the nation for its share of mortgages with negative equity.

The report is online at policymattersohio.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service – OH

Ohio Foreclosures Decline; Many Still “Underwater”

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