July 05--Mortgage lenders are filing about half as many foreclosure lawsuits against Hawaii property owners this year, according to recent statistics from the state Judiciary.
There were 191 new foreclosure cases filed in Circuit Court statewide in April. In the same month last year, there were 397 new cases.
April's tally of new cases was the lowest this year and followed 225 in March and 250 in February. A previously published figure of 215 for January was revised to 227.
In the first four months of last year, the number of new cases ranged from 392 to 450 a month.
Since June 2013 the number of new Hawaii foreclosure cases subsided to about 200 a month.
The recent trend has been fairly clear, and contrasts with a muddied picture of Hawaii foreclosure volumes during the past few years that resulted from changes that the Legislature made to state foreclosure law in mid-2011 and mid-2012. The changes produced dramatic swings in new case volumes as lenders adjusted to new procedures.
Financial services firm CoreLogic Inc. said in a recent report that 4.9 percent of Hawaii homeowners were at least 90 days overdue on mortgage payments in March, down from 5.9 percent in the same month last year.
CoreLogic also reported that 3.2 percent of Hawaii home loans were in some stage of the foreclosure process in March, down from 3.9 percent a year earlier.
Lower mortgage delinquencies in Hawaii are being influenced by the strengthening local economy, which is exhibiting lower unemployment, fewer bankruptcies, rising personal income and higher real estate values.
Another factor in reduced foreclosures appears to be an enhanced effort to resolve mortgage delinquencies outside of foreclosure by several major national lenders under legal settlements with the federal government.
The most recent settlement was announced in December involving Atlanta-based mortgage services firm Ocwen Financial Corp., which agreed to provide Hawaii home loan borrowers with $24 million in principal loan reductions.
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