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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 20, 2010

Island foreclosures up, survey suggests

by Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

A national mortgage industry survey suggests that the number of Hawai'i homes undergoing foreclosure rose in the first quarter compared with a year earlier.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report released yesterday that 7,889 home loans statewide were in foreclosure at the end of the quarter, representing 4.76 percent of loans. That was up from 2.91 percent a year earlier and 4.5 percent at the end of last year.

Compared with other states and the District of Columbia, Hawai'i's foreclosure level was eighth worst. A tad better was Maine with a 4.61 percent foreclosure rate. A tad worse was Ohio at 4.86 percent.

The national rate was 4.63 percent, which the trade group said was a record high.

Of the 7,889 Hawai'i loans in foreclosure during the January-to-March period, 1,956 had not been in foreclosure at the end of last year. These so-called foreclosure starts represented 1.18 percent of all loans in the survey. The foreclosure starts were up slightly from 1.11 percent a year ago and 1.09 percent in the fourth quarter.

Local foreclosure attorneys regard the level of Hawai'i home foreclosures as serious, but also note that many of the foreclosures involve Neighbor Island resort property snapped up by second-home buyers during the housing market boom. Still, foreclosures continue to rise in many O'ahu neighborhoods, particularly on the 'Ewa Plain, where expansion of inventory has been concentrated in recent years.

One area where Hawai'i fares better than most states is the number of home loans that are delinquent but not yet in foreclosure. The report said 11,717 loans were delinquent by at least 30 days in the first quarter, representing 7.07 percent of loans statewide. That compares with a national rate of 9.38 percent. Thirty-seven other states had a higher rate than Hawai'i's.

The delinquency rate for Hawai'i in the first quarter was up from 5.64 percent a year earlier, but down from 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter. The quarter-to-quarter decrease isn't significant, the association said, because delinquencies typically peak in the fourth quarter for seasonal reasons.

The figures cited in the report aren't adjusted by the association for seasonal variation.

Jay Brinkmann, the association's chief economist, said in a statement that some job growth nationally during the first quarter helped subdue the pace of rising foreclosures, which appears to be leveling off.

Brinkmann also noted that pre-foreclosure loan delinquencies aren't clearly improving yet, but don't appear to be getting worse. "However, a bad situation that is not getting worse is still bad," he said.

The Washington, D.C.-based trade group's survey at a national level covers 80 percent to 85 percent of all outstanding mortgage loans, excluding second mortgages, on property containing up to four residential units. The data come from loans held by association members.

In Hawai'i, the association's sample included 165,733 loans.