Foreclosures spike in Clark County, state

Washington has fifth-highest rate in nation

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 
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The number of homes in foreclosure in February spiked once again in Clark County, following a statewide trend that pushed Washington's foreclosure rate to the fifth highest in the nation.

As reported Tuesday by California-based RealtyTrac, there were 382 Clark County homes in some stage of foreclosure in February, an increase of 185 percent from 134 foreclosures in the same period last year. The high county and state rates are likely the result of a buildup of mortgage delinquencies held back from the foreclosure process by new legislation, according to Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac's vice president.

The Foreclosure Fairness Act, effective July 22, 2011, has often been credited for slowing Clark County's and the state's rate of foreclosure. The law essentially forces mortgage lenders to confer with underwater and delinquent homeowners before starting the foreclosure process, a mandate that has added time to the process.

But many homeowners have now exhausted all options, and are seeing the banks move in. February represented the seventh month in a row that Washington's foreclosure rate showed a year-over-year increase. Other states, such as Maryland, saw year-over-year foreclosure rates increase for the eighth month in a row.

"Foreclosure starts have been building in those states over the last several months and likely will end up as bank repossessions or short sales later this year," Blomquist said.

Washington's fifth-highest foreclosure rate out of 50 states translated to one in every 656 households in some stage of foreclosure in February. Oregon ranked No. 35, with one in 1,752 households in some stage of foreclosure, RealtyTrac reported.