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Published: Friday, 6/15/2007

Ohio leads nation in foreclosures for quarter

Even as late payments on mortgages nationally dropped in the first quarter of this year, Ohio led the nation in foreclosures, with the highest figure ever for a major state, a national study found.

Ohio had 5.14 percent of home loans with payments at least 90 days past due and in foreclosure proceedings in the January through March period, more than twice the national measure, the Mortgage Bankers Association said yesterday.

Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana combined for 20 percent of the nation's foreclosures, though the states had less than 9 percent of total loans countrywide, the report said.

"The level of foreclosures and foreclosure starts for those three states exceed what occurred in Texas during the oil bust of the mid-1980s," said Doug Duncan, the group's chief economist.

The problems in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana cover all types of mortgages. The states were tops in the nation for foreclosures begun in the three-month period.

In Ohio, the report said, loans with payments 90 days or more past due amounted to 20 percent for subprime loans, or twice the national average, and were 1.9 percent for prime fixed-rate loans, or three times the national average.

Michigan had 4.16 percent of homes loans at least 90 days past due and in foreclosure proceedings; Indiana had 4.51 percent, the report said.

Nationally, total loans with overdue payments were 4.84 percent in the first quarter, down from 4.95 percent for the end of last year but up from 4.41 percent for the first quarter of last year. These rates do not include loans in the process of foreclosure.

The number of all mortgages starting the foreclosure process in the first quarter rose to a record high of 0.58 percent, up from 0.54 percent in the final quarter of 2006. The association's survey covers 44 million loans nationwide.

The percentage of payments 30 or more days past due for subprime adjustable-rate mortgages jumped to 15.75 percent in the first quarter, up from 14.44 percent at the end of 2006.

People who have taken out subprime mortgages, especially adjustable-rate loans, have been clobbered as rising interest rates and weak home prices have made it increasingly difficult for them to keep up with their monthly payments.

Big increases in late payments in California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona help keep the national figures higher. But employment struggles in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana contributed to their foreclosure rates, the trade group said.

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