Advertisement

Housing foreclosures moving up again in Washington County

March 24, 2013|By ARNOLD S. PLATOU | arnoldp@herald-mail.com
By Chad Trovinger/Graphic Artist

The wave of housing foreclosures that seemed to slow down after the recession is on the way back up again.

From Jan. 1 through March 15, lenders have filed a total of 183 foreclosure notices, compared to 124 during the same period of 2011, at the Washington County Courthouse.

What’s happening?

Many of them seem to be repeat cases — people who were given easier loan terms so they could escape foreclosure during the recession, but who now have fallen back into trouble again, said Sharon Disque, executive director of the Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc.

That independent, nonprofit organization specializes in helping first-time home buyers as well as financially struggling homeowners.

“What we’re starting to see now is people who have successfully negotiated (loan) modifications, but were unable to keep up with the payments,” Disque said. “And so we’re seeing the process start over again with new foreclosures.”

“So it could be the same homeowner. It could be the same lender” who was involved with the foreclosure process then and is again now, Disque said.

This time though, the lender might not be as willing to listen, she said.

Can you help such people?

“That’s where it becomes difficult,” Disque said. “Every lender is different. Sometimes, the lender will say, ‘We took the interest rate down to 2 percent. We did this or that. We really can’t do more.’”

“But there are other people who can work things out. And housing counselors can help,” she said.

A similar trend in foreclosure actions is being seen throughout Maryland and a few other states but, in general, much of the problem seems to be subsiding nationwide, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosure properties.

“Dangerous foreclosure flare-ups are still popping up in states where foreclosures have been delayed by a lengthy court process or by new legislation making it more difficult to foreclose outside of the court system,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

By studying the numbers of default notices, scheduled foreclosure actions and bank repossessions, RealtyTrac found that Maryland has had “eight straight months of rising foreclosure activity,” Blomquist said. That’s put Maryland’s foreclosure rate among the top 10 nationwide for the first time since July 2010, he said.

Nationwide, one in every 849 housing units was in some stage of foreclosure in February, RealtyTrac said.

In Maryland, the rate was one out of every 720 housing units in February, the company said.

Florida posted the nation’s highest rate, with one of every 282 housing units in foreclosure, the company said.

In Pennsylvania, the rate was one in every 1,406, and in West Virginia, it was one in every 9,082.

During the 2007-09 recession, foreclosure filings reached their peak in Washington County, according to figures kept by Clerk of the Circuit Court Dennis Weaver.

In 2006, lenders filed a total of 319 foreclosures here, Weaver’s data shows. The numbers steadily increased, and in 2009, there were 1,037 foreclosure filings in the county.

The number fell to 657 in 2010 and to 322 in 2011 before beginning to rise again in 2012, reaching 476 cases, according to Weaver’s data.

This year, by March 15, there have been 183 foreclosure filings.

Disque said that not every foreclosure filing results in an actual foreclosure. The number is reduced when lenders agree to modify the terms of a loan, she said.


Mortgage help available

If you’re having trouble paying your mortgage, the Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc. has counselors who might be able to help you through the crisis.

For more about the nonprofit agency, which also is known as the Hagerstown Home Store, you may call 301-797-0900 or go to www.hagerstownhomestore.org.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|