MEDINA — Medina County Auditor Michael Kovack said he thinks the county is on its way to economic recovery, and that the declining rate of foreclosure filings is proof.
There were 842 foreclosure filings in 2012 — the lowest yearly number since 2007.
“Without question, the housing market in Medina County is recovering,” Kovack said.
The number of filings in 2012 continues a downward trend since the peak of the recession in 2009, which marked the county’s historical high at 1,160 filings.
Kovack said that the auditor’s office and the state have been working hard to combat foreclosures.
The federal Restoring Stability program is one example, he said. The program gave $25,000 each to more than 100 county homeowners this year to help keep their mortgages afloat.
What’s more, the auditor’s partnership with Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People, a foreclosure prevention nonprofit organization, aided the county’s recovery, Kovack said.
“We’re still very busy with our foreclosure outreach,” he said, “but demand is shrinking.”
He said it’s important to remember that many foreclosure filings are resolved in other ways.
In 2012, for example, only half of the county’s filings went to sheriff’s sale. Though 2009 had the most filings, only a third went to sheriff’s sale, Kovack said. Similar trends appear as far back as 2007.
He said it’s likely that homeowners sorted out their financial problems privately in those situations.
Kovack said that he is hopeful the county will continue to see a decline throughout this year.
“I would absolutely expect those numbers to continue their downward trend,” he said.
Kovack said the county’s strong educational systems are partly responsible for the decline.
When a community is well educated, the economy in the area is stronger, he said; and since housing markets and economies are connected, education also affects housing markets.
In Ohio, there’s only one county in which every school district has an excellent rating or higher, “and that’s Medina County,” Kovack said. “And we’ve done it twice in a row.”
He said he’s not sure how the schools will fare with so many failing levies, though. Voters turned down levies for Black River, Cloverleaf and Medina schools in November.
Despite Medina County’s apparent recovery, 2012’s numbers are still high compared with 1993, when only 108 were filed, according to court documents.
Kovack said population growth is an important factor to keep in mind.
The county’s population has almost doubled since 1990. He said it only makes sense that the number of foreclosure filings would increase as well.
There were eight times more foreclosure filings in 2012 than 20 years earlier, and statewide statistics show a comparable trend.
He said banks’ lending practices have changed in the past couple decades, too.
“There’s a lot going on here,” he said.
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.