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Foreclosures down but problem persists

Working in Neighborhoods' (WIN) annual foreclosure report is out and the numbers are slightly better for 2013.

Completed Sheriff's Sales in Hamilton County dropped 17.5 percent from 2012 and new foreclosure filings fell 24 percent. That's the lowest new filings have been since the housing crisis began.

{Read the full report here.}

But Sister Barbara Busch says 22,000 families have lost their homes since 2002 so there's still work to be done.

"If we had a natural disaster and 22,000 homes were somehow destroyed or harmed and 22,000 families were out, we'd be pouring dollars and dollars into this," says Busch. "Right now, what we're really doing is taking all the money and pulling it out because we say the crisis is over."

The data show the number of foreclosures in Hamilton County, but outside of Cincinnati, is increasing. Busch says this is likely because of high unemployment. She says people have also now gone through the resources they once had such as savings and retirement accounts.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
This foreclosed home sits across the street from Working In Neighborhoods in South Cumminsville.

According to WIN, one in 65 Ohio homes is in a state of foreclosure. The national average is one in 96. Data from Realty Trac shows Ohio's foreclosure rate is the fifth highest in the nation for 2013, despite fewer foreclosure filings.

Busch points to North College Hill as one community hit extra hard. She says one in seven homes there have been foreclosed upon and the median home value has dropped from around $98,000 in 2006 to $68,000. Zillow estimates 39 percent of North College Hill homeowners are upside down on their mortgages.

If you need help with your home loan, Busch says you should act immediately. Ohio's Save the Dream program is nearly out of money and will stop taking new applicants April 30.

Major Findings

  • Completed Sheriff’s Sales in Hamilton County fell from 2,931 in 2012 to 2,418 in 2013, a drop of 17.5 percent. 842 of these completed sales occurred within the City of Cincinnati, and the remaining 1,576 sales occurred outside of the city.
  • New foreclosure filings in 2013 dropped to 4,268 from 5,645 in 2012, falling 24.3 percent and the lowest number of new filings in Hamilton County since before the housing crisis began.
  • Between 2006 and 2013, the number of Hamilton County properties sold at Sheriff’s Sale totaled 22,190 properties. In the City of Cincinnati alone, there were 9,494 properties sold at Sheriff’s Sale between 2006 and 2013.
  • Over the past several years, the majority foreclosure activity has moved out of the urban core of Cincinnati, expanding to other areas of Hamilton County. In 2006 the majority of properties lost to foreclosure occurred in urban neighborhoods and only about 45 percent of the County’s completed Sheriff’s sales occurred outside of Cincinnati city limits. By 2013, the share of the County’s foreclosures occurring outside of the City of Cincinnati has grown to 65.2 percent.
  • The “Top Five” banks with the highest number of completed Sheriff’s Sales in 2013 are: Bank of America (300 completed sales), JP Morgan Chase (260), US Bank (255), Wells Fargo (250) and Fifth Third (152). These five banks account for around 50 percent of the total number of completed foreclosures for the year.
  • Tax foreclosure sales rose from 55 properties in 2012 to 101 properties in 2013; this is the second year in a row that the number of tax foreclosure sales has roughly doubled (21 properties sold at tax foreclosure in 2011).
  • Of the 2,418 completed Sheriff’s Sales in 2013, 81.3% (1,965) were single-family homes; when  apartment buildings, condominiums, and two- and three-family homes are included, 97.7 percent of all 2013 bank-seized properties were residential.
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.