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Published: Thursday, 10/23/2008

Foreclosures fewer in Toledo metro area

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
A foreclosure sign posted at 1176 Broadway is one of many locally. A foreclosure sign posted at 1176 Broadway is one of many locally.
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Foreclosure activity slowed in metro Toledo this summer but hundreds of homeowners continued to struggle to make mortgage payments, a report released today shows.

Between July and September, the number of people losing their homes or facing the loss of their homes dropped 22 percent from a year earlier and 39 percent from the spring quarter, according to RealtyTrac Inc., of Irvine, Calif., an online tracking agency.

Less than 1 percent of homeowners - 0.67 percent - fell into that category in the third quarter, dropping the Toledo area to the 34th highest rate of foreclosure activity nationally from 21st in the second quarter and 19th at the end of 2007.

Still, 1,987 homeowners in metro Toledo either lost their homes or were behind in mortgage payments, RealtyTrac said.

But local observers said yesterday that they do not believe the local real estate market has reached the bottom.

"I don't see any confidence in the market and I don't think there has been any flight back by buyers," said Michael Miller, president of Sulphur Springs Realty Inc. in Toledo.

Homes repossessed by lenders and unsold new homes have begun to move, he said. But that momentum hasn't swung to the market overall, despite a large supply of well-priced properties, Mr. Miller said.

He blamed the problem on low consumer confidence and stock market volatility. "Until we get rid of [these] constant day-to-day swings in the stock market, we're not going to see a bottom," Mr. Miller added.

Filings of foreclosure lawsuits continue at a fast pace. "The trend is still up," said Bernie Quilter, clerk of courts in Lucas County. "There has been no slowdown."

With 350 such filings last month, September was the sixth-highest month since the housing downturn began in 2005. Three of the other highest months also were in 2008.

RealtyTrac counts not only suits like those filed in county court but actual repossessions and notices sent by lenders to homeowners who miss mortgage payments.

Ohio ranked eighth in the nation, behind No. 1 Nevada and other once-booming warm-weather states such as California and Florida now at the center of a housing market tsunami.

Michigan ranked seventh, with the city of Detroit logging the nation's 14th-highest foreclosure rate. The worst cities nationally were Stockton, Calif., with 3.69 percent of homes in foreclosure and Las Vegas, at 3.48 percent. Among Ohio cities, Akron was 22nd; Columbus, 29th; Cleveland, 30th; Dayton, 36th, and Cincinnati, 37th.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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