Last month, Summit County recorded its lowest number of foreclosure lawsuits in more than a decade.
The community also is on pace to tally the fewest for an entire year since 2004.
But some local housing experts warned against celebrating any end to the foreclosure crisis, as people are still seeking help.
There were 187 mortgage and tax foreclosures filed in June against property owners. The last time the monthly figure was below 200 was in July 2002.
“You hate to see anybody lose their home but that’s back down to normal numbers,” said Daniel Horrigan, county clerk of courts.
Thanks to the dip last month, the county is on pace to experience its lowest number of foreclosure lawsuits since 2004 when there were 3,066.
The county recorded 1,656 such lawsuits during the first six months of this year, a 23 percent decline from the same period last year. The total so far this year was buoyed by 488 in January — the highest monthly total ever reported.
Two local housing experts attributed the six-month decline to more people receiving financial assistance through the Save the Dream Ohio program and lenders being more willing to modify loans.
But Toree Stokes, chief executive officer of the Mustard Seed Development Center in Akron, and Sharon Butler-McCray, who heads the Akron office of the NID-Housing Counseling Agency, said homeowners are still hurting and there’s no end to the foreclosure crisis in sight.
Stokes estimated that her agency receives 10 to 25 referrals a day, while McCray’s sees about 15 homeowners a week.
“We are swamped,” McCray said.
The good news, she said, is that counseling agencies have been successful in preventing foreclosures and keeping people in their homes.
But they worry that people aren’t changing their spending habits after their income drops, meaning homeowners likely will end up in trouble again.
“They aren’t modifying their expenses at all,” Stokes said. “They are robbing Peter to pay Paul and that’s going to explode on us.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a settling of the foreclosure crisis until we really address the problem,” she added. “We need to make people accountable for these programs and require financial counseling.”
Summit County has had a major problem with foreclosures. Over the last five years, more than 19,400 foreclosure lawsuits have been filed. They peaked at 4,548 in 2006.
Lawsuits don’t always lead to someone losing a home, but are a strong indicator of economic and housing troubles in a community.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.