State foreclosures up 275.5%


POSTED: Thursday, March 12, 2009

Statewide foreclosures soared 275.5 percent year over year in February, indicating how hard Hawaii continues to be hit by the economic recession.

The February increase was the highest recorded in the state since September, according to RealtyTrac's survey released yesterday, and nearly 60 percent higher than in January.

Hawaii reported 537 foreclosure filings in February — or 1 filing in every 944 households — pushing Hawaii to the No. 27 rank, up three places from January. In February 2008, Hawaii was No. 43.

“;It's just a sign of the weak economic conditions that we're in,”; said Honolulu Board of Realtors economist Harvey Shapiro. “;I don't think Hawaii will be hurt any more than other states, but it's pretty clear that we're following the pattern other states have established.”;

Nationally, the number of foreclosure filings on U.S. properties jumped 30 percent compared to the same time last year, and nearly 6 percent more than in January. One in every 440 U.S. homes went into foreclosure in February.

Jim Wright, president of Century 21 All Islands, said he expects the number of foreclosures to keep going up in the next 12 to 18 months — and he blames, in part, the lack of public confidence generated by negative news in the media.

“;All they see is that we're going to hell in a handbasket,”; he said. “;They're starting to lose heart.”;

Many banks also have been so slow in closing short sales — where the homeowner sells short of what they owe on a mortgage — that buyers give up and move on, he said. Homes that don't go through a short sale then go into foreclosure.

Wright said the rates here are still lower than Sacramento, Calif., or markets in Florida, where foreclosures make up more than half of home sales.

The highest total of foreclosure filings were reported in California, which recorded 80,775 properties in February, more than any other state, and 51 percent more than the same time last year. Florida came in second, with 46,391 filings, 43 percent more than last year.

Shapiro said while most other cities have a very large inventory buildup, Honolulu has not seen that yet, which may save the market here from the large price swings occurring on the mainland.

Las Vegas became the city with the highest foreclosure rate among metro areas with a population of at least 200,000 — with one in every 60 homes filing — and more than seven times higher than the national average.

No place to call home

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

Month Total Change


Month Total Change
Source: RealtyTrac