Foreclosure filings increase in Cuyahoga County during first half of the year (Plain Dealer)

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Foreclosure filings increase in Cuyahoga County during first half of the year (Plain Dealer)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — New foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County rose more than 12 percent during the first six months of this year, with the suburbs continuing to feel the brunt of the increases.

Residential and commercial foreclosure filings hit 7,440 in the first half of the year compared to 6,604 in the same period last year, according to data compiled by Case Western Reserve University’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development.

“It’s discouraging, but not unexpected and its extremely significant,” said Paul Bellamy, director of the county’s foreclosure prevention program. “I don’t see it getting better for at least two, maybe three years.”

Total filings in the suburbs exceeded those in the already foreclosure-ravaged city of Cleveland as more people with good mortgages have been upended by unemployment and the weak economy. That trend began in 2008. Filings in Cleveland rose 6 percent to just over 3,200.

The trends have been reflected in the growing numbers of people from outer-ring suburbs seeking foreclosure prevention counseling at Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People, or ESOP.

“We’re seeing increasingly more folks coming from the Westlakes and the Beachwoods,” said Mark Seifert, ESOP’s executive director. “By and large we don’t see bad loans anymore. These are good traditional loans. . . it’s unemployment that’s killing people.”

No doubt some suburbs are still seeing relatively small numbers of foreclosures — but the percentage increases may be in the double digits.

Solon, for example, saw 72 new foreclosure filings in the first half of this year — but that was an 18 percent increase compared to the first six months of last year.

The city has noted the upward trend but says it hasn’t seen much of an impact.

“We’re fortunate the numbers are smaller than they are in some of our neighboring communities,” said Rob Frankland, the city’s director of planning and community development. “I think Solon has been weathering it rather well.”

Euclid had the highest number of suburban filings during the first six months of the year — 420, a nearly 18 percent increase from the same time last year.

But the city said a good number of filings have not been taken to judgement and sheriff’s sales.

“The banks are sitting on them,” said Marty Castelletti, the city’s manager of neighborhood development and chairman of its foreclosure prevention committee. “Banks seem to be trying to control their inventory by not letting too many foreclosures happen too fast so they track them better and dispose of them better.”

But he said the volume of foreclosures has lowered the average sale price of homes.

The CWRU data includes mortgage foreclosure filings — which account for the vast majority of them — as well as tax foreclosure filings.

The data does show mortgage foreclosure filings declined about 6 percent from the first quarter of this year to the second quarter. But the number of such filings for the first half of this year still topped those from either the first half or the second half of last year.

“There may be variability quarter to quarter, but this is still an issue,” said Michael Schramm, a CWRU researcher who compiled the data.

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