News Column

Isle foreclosures rise overall despite recent monthly declines

February 5, 2014

Gomes, Andrew

The number of new foreclosure cases in Hawaii was higher in 2013 than the year before despite a decline during the most recent months.

There were 3,430 foreclosure cases initiated in state court last year, or 3 percent more than the 3,326 cases the year before, according to the latest statistics from the state Judiciary.

In December there were 179 new cases, representing the second-lowest figure last year after 178 in November. The high for any month last year was 450 in March, and volume had generally been on the decline since then.

Some local foreclosure attorneys suggest that Hawaii's growing economy and real estate market are helping homeowners stay out of loan trouble while lenders also make more efforts to resolve delinquencies outside of foreclosure.

An apparent reason that last year's tally of new foreclosure cases wasn't lower than 2012's is that Hawaii lawmakers modified state law in 2012 to require that attorneys attest to the accuracy of all foreclosure documents filed by lenders in court.

This requirement, which took effect in mid-2012, forced lenders and attorneys to come up with new procedures that took some time to implement. In the three months immediately following the new rule, the number of new cases plummeted to between 58 and 74 a month, down from 458 in June 2012 just before the law change was enacted.

For 2014, year-over-year comparisons of new foreclosure lawsuits should be more meaningful and provide a clearer picture of what appears to be an ongoing recovery.

Credit: Andrew Gomes

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Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)

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