The number of new foreclosure cases filed in Ohio fell 16 percent last year, the second consecutive year that foreclosures have declined statewide, the Ohio Supreme Court said Wednesday.
Common pleas courts reported 71,556 new residential and commercial foreclosure cases last year, or 13,927 fewer than in 2010. The total was the lowest since 2005.
“It’s good news anytime we can see drops in foreclosures,” said Bill Faith, executive director of the Columbus-based Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. “That’s great. But the numbers are still very high.”
Seventy-five of Ohio’s 88 counties reported double-digit foreclosure decreases last year from 2010. Summit saw a 15 percent decline. Other counties in the area also experienced drops: Medina, 17.5 percent; Portage, 20 percent; Stark, 16.7 percent; and Wayne, 27.8 percent.
Among the state’s largest urban counties, Lucas saw the greatest one-year decline of 23.5 percent.
Only Coshocton and Guernsey counties saw increases from 2010 to 2011.
Cuyahoga County led the state with 11,544 foreclosure cases.
Faith and others attributed the decline to several factors: banks holding off on filing foreclosures because of the robo-signing scandal, court mediation, improving unemployment numbers and the impact of such foreclosure-prevention programs as the Ohio Hardest-Hit Fund, which is distributing $570 million in federal money to homeowners.
Faith cautioned there could be an upswing looming. Banks have settled with authorities over the robo-signing scandal and probably will start filing more foreclosure cases, he said.
“We don’t know what their backlog looks like,” he said.
Ohio should celebrate the decline, but the state still ranks high nationally for foreclosures, said Alison Goebel, associate director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center in Columbus.
“Just because they are going down doesn’t mean the crisis has dissipated,” she said. “We definitely should cheer the victories we’re having, but we should recognize the crisis isn’t going to go away anytime soon.”
The Ohio Supreme Court, which offered no theories or explanation for the decline, started collecting foreclosure data in 1990. The number of filings rose for 14 consecutive years before falling in 2010 and again last year.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.