The number of Hawaii properties caught up in foreclosure in May remained above the 1,000 mark for a third consecutive month, but may be getting close to leveling off.
There were 1,055 properties statewide in some stage of foreclosure last month, according to real estate research firm RealtyTrac.
NO PLACE TO CALL HOME
Hawaii’s monthly foreclosures over the past year, including the year-over-year percentage gain:
The figure was 29 percent higher than the 816 filings in May 2009, and though the increase was significant, it represented the smallest percentage-point rise for any month in more than a year.
"The pace of increase appears to be slowing," said Daren Blomquist, marketing communications manager for California-based RealtyTrac.
Last year the year-over-year acceleration for Hawaii foreclosures was as high as 500 percent and typically more than 100 percent. This year the increases have been under 100 percent in three of the past five months.
The 1,055 foreclosure filings in May represented the second-lowest count for any month this year, and they were significantly off the record of 1,534 filings in December.
Blomquist said foreclosure rates in more states began declining in recent months from year-ago levels and that Hawaii may be getting close to following.
"Hawaii is a little bit behind on that trend," he said.
Nationally, the number of foreclosure cases counted by RealtyTrac was up less than 1 percent in May from the same month a year ago.
"The (national) numbers in May continued and confirmed the trends we noticed in April: overall foreclosure activity leveling off while lenders work through the backlog of distressed properties that have built up over the past 20 months," James Saccacio, RealtyTrac chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Compared with other states, Hawaii had the 13th-highest rate of foreclosures in May.
Hawaii’s rate was one foreclosure filing per 486 households.
The national average was one filing per 400 households.
Nevada had the worst rate at one filing per 79 households, and Vermont had the best rate at one filing per 16,454 households.
By county in Hawaii, Honolulu had the most filings at 418, but it had the lowest rate, at one filing for every 807 households.
Kauai had the next-best rate at one filing per 372 households, based on 80 total filings.
On Maui the rate was one filing per 285 households, based on 232 total filings.
The Big Island had the worst rate, at one filing per 245 households, or 325 filings in all.
One reason Hawaii might still have relatively high foreclosure numbers is that RealtyTrac’s count is not limited to homes, but also includes commercial property such as condotels and time-share units. This methodology can elevate foreclosure rates in states that are major resort markets.
Still, there’s no question that local homeowners continue to struggle with mortgage payments amid a tepid economy, an unemployment rate that remains near 7 percent and home values that are still below peaks of a few years ago.
RealtyTrac’s data shows that while new foreclosure cases remain high, the number of cases in the last stage of foreclosure—repossession—is growing, which suggests that the bulge of foreclosure cases may be working its way out of the pipeline.
Of the 1,055 foreclosure filings in May, 303 were lender repossessions known as real-estate-owned cases. That figure compared with 61 repossession filings in May 2009.
The bulk of foreclosure filings last month were trustee sale notices representing properties headed to auction. There were 660 sale notices counted by RealtyTrac.
Another 92 filings were default notices, which are filed in some but not all cases.
Because RealtyTrac counts three kinds of filings and doesn’t exclude commercial property, its count is regarded as a rough indicator of how many homes are in foreclosure.
RealtyTrac’s data also can include filings on the same property counted in different months.
OUT OF THE HOUSE
Kailua-Kona had the most foreclosures in May, according to RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure marketplace. Below are the state’s foreclosure hot spots last month: