But the 24.4% decline does not signal fewer mortgage troubles, an analysis says
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Feb 10, 2011
For a second consecutive month, foreclosure filings in Hawaii decreased, but the decline in January isn't believed to be a sign that the wave of mortgage troubles is subsiding.
The number of foreclosure filings statewide fell 24.4 percent last month to 985 compared with 1,302 a year earlier, according to data from real estate research firm RealtyTrac.
The drop followed a 34.8 percent decline in December compared with the same month a year earlier.
But in an assessment that echoed sentiments from local foreclosure attorneys in recent months, California-based RealtyTrac said the reduction remains tied to foreclosure processing difficulties by lenders.
"Unfortunately, this is less a sign of a robust housing recovery and more a sign that lenders have become bogged down in reviewing procedures, resubmitting paperwork and formulating legal arguments related to accusations of improper foreclosure processing," James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement.
Decreases were seen nationwide, with total U.S. foreclosure filings dropping 17.2 percent. Nevada, which has long been the state hardest hit by foreclosures, experienced only a 3.5 percent increase.
There is no question that the rate of increase for foreclosures has been slowing in Hawaii over the past year. In 2009, filing counts were rising typically by 100 percent to 500 percent. Last year, most increases were under 100 percent.
But the statistics in recent months are believed to have been influenced by temporary freezes or reviews on foreclosure processing by several big lenders that have had their documentation procedures challenged in courts.
Last month, Hawaii's rate of one foreclosure filing for every 523 residences ranked 11th worst among states. Nevada's rate was the worst at one filing per 93 residences. Vermont had the best rate at one filing per 14,964 residences.
More than half of the filings, or 555, in Hawaii were auction notices that represent roughly a midpoint between the start of the foreclosure process and a completed foreclosure ending in repossession by a lender. Only 36 of the filings were default notices. Some 394 of the filings were repossessions.
By county, Honolulu had the most filings with 354, but it had the lowest rate, at one filing for every 955 households.
The Big Island had almost as many filings with 341, which represented the worst rate at one filing per 236 households.
On Maui, there were 209 filings, or one per 319 households.
There were 81 filings on Kauai, or one per 372 households.