Hawaii foreclosure cases fall for fifth year in row


Sharp Credit – Credit News – Credit Information

Fewer Hawaii property owners fell into foreclosure last year in continuation of a trend that began in 2014, according to state data.

The number of new foreclosure cases filed in state court against property owners statewide fell 13.7% to 1,261 last year from 1,461 the year before.

It was the fifth consecutive annual decrease, and suggests that modest growth in jobs, personal income and the general state economy over these years is helping homeowners avoid mortgage defaults.

Still, destabilizing personal events such as divorces, bad financial decisions, illnesses and other circumstances contributed to foreclosure even in the expanding economy where interest rates have remained relatively low and home values have generally appreciated.

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According to the state Judiciary, which published the foreclosure case data, such lawsuits in Hawaii peaked in 2013 at 3,430 cases. The decline began in 2014 when 2,084 cases were filed, and case volume has continued to fall since then.

Hawaii foreclosure data before 2013 is problematic to compare because of repeated changes made to state foreclosure law.

Up until 2011 most Hawaii foreclosure cases were conducted out of court in a nonjudicial process that homeowner advocates contended was unfair to borrowers and led to abuses by lenders.

State lawmakers overhauled foreclosure rules in mid-2011 to require all foreclosure cases by lenders against homeowners to be filed in state court, and additional tweaks in more recent years were made that sometimes required lenders to refile cases.

Cases filed in court can include actions against owners of commercial real estate and actions initiated by condominium associations against homeowners who fail to pay maintenance fees or other assessments. Condo association cases, however, also can be done through the nonjudicial process.

Other foreclosure cases, including actions involving timeshare properties, are typically done through the nonjudicial process, which isn’t counted in Judiciary data.

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