Summit, Stark Set Foreclosure Records

Akron Beacon Journal - July 8, 2005

Rates in region are 3 to 5 times higher than ’94
By Gloria Irwin

The Akron Beacon Journal

Even with the economy improving, foreclosure filings against property owners in Stark and Summit counties remained at record levels last year, a new study says.

Summit County’s foreclosures per capita worsened last year, moving the county from eighth place in Ohio in 2003 to seventh last year, according to the study prepared by Cleveland-based Policy Matters Ohio.

Overall, foreclosure filings were three to five times greater last year in Summit and surrounding counties than a decade earlier, the report found.

In this area, only Medina and Portage counties saw a decline in filings last year, the report found.

That was what Policy Matters Ohio researcher Zach Schiller found to be “the most disturbing element” among the findings. “When are we ever going to see this come down?” he asked.

Ohio continues to lead the nation in foreclosures, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. At the end of March, the state had the highest percentage of mortgages in foreclosure.

Losses of good-paying jobs, high consumer indebtedness, a soft economy and predatory lending practices all have been cited as reasons for foreclosures in past years. Foreclosure filings took off in the late ’90s, and have remained at a high level since.

Other highlights from the report:

Montgomery County, which includes Dayton, led the state in per-capita filings; its 4,002 filings equal one for every 137 people.

Summit was No. 7 with one per 163 people, or 3,358 total; Stark was 13th with one per 179 residents, or 2,129 total.

Based on U.S. census data, there was one Ohio foreclosure filing for every 76 households last year.

Steve Baughman, a foreclosure counselor for Fair Housing Contact Service in Akron, said the number of clients he sees appears to be steady.

Most have gotten behind on their payments, lost a job or suffered an injury that caused them to miss some payments, he said.

Baughman said fewer seem to be victims of predatory lending, in which they take out mortgages that are nearly impossible to repay.

Policy Matters Ohio took its data from material published by the Ohio Supreme Court. The totals include all filings, whether for nonpayment of a mortgage or for a tax delinquency. The totals include double filings that occur when bankruptcy interrupts the process.

In addition, all kinds of properties — whether commercial, single-family or multifamily — were included, Schiller said. Foreclosures against single-family homes make up the bulk of filings. Not all foreclosures lead to a loss of the owner’s property.

Schiller said Ohio Supreme Court records were examined for each year from 1994 through 2004, so the final figures are a valid measure of what’s happening.

Policy Matters Ohio is a nonprofit research organization founded in January 2000. It is funded primarily by the George Gund Foundation.

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