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Honolulu foreclosures jump 70%

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    Seven areas in California are listed among the top 15 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. This Hawthorne, Calif., home was listed as a foreclosure yesterday.
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Home foreclosures in Honolulu shot up more than 70 percent during the first half of this year even as foreclosure rates began abating in the hardest-hit cities on the mainland, according to report released today.

A total of 2,784 Honolulu homeowners received a foreclosure filing between January and the end of June, up 72.3 percent from the first half of 2009, according to the report from real estate research firm RealtyTrac.

There was one foreclosure filing for every 121 homes in Honolulu, the 112th highest ratio out of 204 cities surveyed by RealtyTrac.

"Those numbers are consistent with what we’re seeing in our office," said local foreclosure attorney Chris Goodwin.

"I would have been surprised if it was anything less than a 50 percent increase. We’re seeing no signs of stabilization in the number of foreclosure based on our experience," Goodwin said.

Nationally, foreclosure rates rose in 75 percent of the 204 cities surveyed. However, in nine of the 10 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates — including Las Vegas and several cities in Southern California — the foreclosure rate dropped. Las Vegas, which led the nation with one foreclosure for every 15 homes, saw its overall foreclosure rate drop by 9 percent during the first half of the year from the same period in 2009. In Riverside, Calif., where one out of 23 homes is in foreclosure, the rate dropped by 23 percent.

"While we’re seeing early signs that foreclosure activity may have peaked in some of the hardest-hit markets, foreclosures continued to rise in three-quarters of the nation’s metropolitan areas in the first half of the year," James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a news release.

"The fragile stability achieved in many local housing markets hinges on improvements in the underlying economy, specifically job growth," he said.

In Honolulu, the official unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in June, a relatively low figure compared to other cities around the country. However, the number doesn’t include those who are forced into part-time jobs or have become so discouraged that they’ve stopped looking for work. When they are added in, the rate rises to 15.8 percent.

Economists estimate Hawaii has lost about 40,000 jobs, or about 6 percent of the total, since the recession started in late 2007. And a complete recovery in the job market is not even on the radar screen yet. The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which makes projections only three years out, expects wage and salary jobs to total 609,400 in 2013, still well below the 2007 peak.

Bankruptcies, which are closely tied to foreclosures, also continue to mount at a near record pace.

The number of Hawaii bankruptcy filings jumped to 371 last month, a 36.9 percent increase over the same month a year ago, according to federal Bankruptcy Court statistics. It was the second-highest number of cases filed since October 2005, when changes to federal law made it more difficult to seek bankruptcy protection.

 

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