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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 11, 2010

Isle foreclosure rate 11th-worst in nation

by Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawai'i property foreclosure actions stayed above the 1,000 mark for a second month in a row, though January's count was less than the record set in December.

Real estate research firm RealtyTrac said there were 1,302 foreclosure filings statewide last month. That was up nearly fourfold from 337 in the same month last year, but was down from 1,534 in December.

January's high count was primarily from properties approaching foreclosure auction. RealtyTrac reported that 862 of the 1,302 filings were auction notices. About 345 of the filings were repossessions by lenders, the last stage of foreclosure. There were 95 default notices, typically the first step in foreclosure.

Because RealtyTrac's data can include filings on the same property counted in different months, the report is regarded as a rough indication of foreclosures in Hawai'i.

For the third consecutive month, the number of default notices was under 100. That hasn't happened since mid-2008, and could signal that new foreclosure cases may have already peaked. Still, it's hard to tell because RealtyTrac may not be able to count all default notices since some aren't filed publicly. Most Hawai'i foreclosure cases are handled outside court, meaning no foreclosure lawsuit is filed in most cases.

Another caveat to RealtyTrac's data is that it doesn't exclude commercial property, such as condominium-hotel units and time-shares.

California-based RealtyTrac collects data from more than 2,200 counties nationwide, covering about 90 percent of the U.S. population.

The number of Hawai'i foreclosure filings in January equates to one filing for every 394 households. That made the state's foreclosure rate 11th worst nationally. The national average was one filing for every 409 households.

By county, Honolulu had the most filings 652 but the lowest rate, at one filing for every 517 households.

Kaua'i had the next best rate, with 73 filings, representing one per 408 households.

On Maui, there were 251 filings, or one per 263 households.

The Big Island had the highest rate, with 326 filings, or one filing per 244 households.