Foreclosures dip 5.5%


POSTED: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hawaii foreclosure filings took a breather in April from the previous month but still soared 216.7 percent over the year-earlier period.

The 684 filings last month was a 5.5 percent dip from March, but it still was the second-highest total in more than a year, according to data released today by RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties.





        Hawaii's monthly foreclosures over the past year, including the year-over-year percentage gain:





MonthTotal% Change







MonthTotal% Change



Source: RealtyTrac


There were 724 cases in March.

In April 2008 there were 216 filings, according to RealtyTrac's latest statistics, a slight discrepancy from the 210 that the company reported a year ago.

Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac's marketing communications manager, said that when there is a spike one month, such as the more-than-500 percent year-over-year increase posted in March, it is common “;for there to be a pullback the next.”;

The 5.5 percent month-to-month dip is not necessarily a sign that the trend is reversing, said Harvey Shapiro, research economist with the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

“;I wouldn't put too much into that”; decrease, he said. “;I think it's just timing.”;

The nearly 217 percent increase “;is something to be concerned about, but I still think we're in better territory than most other cities.”;

Hawaii's lower number of subprime mortgages could be a factor in other states' rates being higher than ours, Shapiro said.

Last month Hawaii had the 23rd-highest rate of foreclosures among the 50 states, with one in every 741 housing units undergoing some form of foreclosure activity. Hawaii ranked 36th in April of last year.

“;Hawaii has been one of the states that's been posting the biggest increases,”; which could be because “;a lot of those homes are second homes or are non-owner-occupied, (which) could be skewing the numbers higher,”; said Blomquist.

A large percentage of Hawaii's foreclosure cases, 46 percent, involve second homes or vacation homes that are not owner-occupied. That figure has risen sharply since the last time RealtyTrac checked—it was at 27 percent in October, Blomquist said. The national average is 30 percent.

Nevada, Florida, California and Arizona have led the nation in foreclosure rates for at least a year, Blomquist said.

Nationally the 342,038 foreclosures in April marked a second consecutive month with a record high. One in every 374 housing units was the subject of a foreclosure filing, the highest monthly rate since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in January 2005.

Separately, Honolulu's median home prices are “;back on top”; of the nation, Shapiro said, citing a National Association of Realtors report issued yesterday.

Honolulu's first-quarter median home price was $570,000, “;and the next highest was $100,000 below us,”; he said.

That would be the $450,000 median in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., metro area.

“;I was kind of shocked that the switch occurred so rapidly, and it's not because Honolulu went up; it's because the other major cities experienced major, major drops,”; Shapiro said.

Foreclosures are a factor, as they “;compete against existing properties”; and are priced at 20 percent below the market, which brings the whole market down, he said.

That enables “;akamai”; buyers to find “;bargain basement prices ... but the important point is that properties are still moving here,”; Shapiro said.

Another important message, Shapiro said, is that when it comes to home prices, “;Honolulu is much more stable than any of the other cities.”;