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Once moratoriums end, Maryland lawmakers fear, a flood of foreclosures and evictions may soon follow. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Maryland, again, leads nation in foreclosure rate

When it comes to foreclosures, October was not a good month for Maryland.

After falling out of the top five states for foreclosure rates for the first time this year in September, Maryland reclaimed the No. 1 spot last month. According to real estate data firm RealtyTrac, the state led the way with 5,126 filings. The firm found that one in every 466 homes in the state had a foreclosure notice, which is more than twice the national average.

Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said at first the findings were surprising because he expected foreclosures to thin out as Maryland worked through a backlog of foreclosures. But as he and his team drilled down in the data they found that 63 percent of the new foreclosure filings in the state were from loans that originated between 2004 and 2008.

That indicates that many of the new foreclosures are from homeowners who took advantage of opportunities to make adjustments to their mortgage at the height of the financial crisis but still weren’t been able to keep up payments. Blomquist said new foreclosure filings were spread fairly evenly throughout the state, and this isn’t an indicator of larger problems ahead.

“This still seems to be tied to the old crisis and not a new emerging crisis,” Blomquist said.

The Baltimore metro market was also No. 4 in the nation’s top 10 metro markets for foreclosure. One in every 429 homes in the area had a foreclosure notice. Baltimore County with 2,320 foreclosures with 2,658 homes for sale and Prince George’s County with 3,304 foreclosures and 1,874 homes for sale were among the highest in the state.

The jump back into the national lead comes after experts from organizations like the Maryland Bankers Association predicted the number of foreclosures would begin to drop.

The rationale behind that expectation was that actions taken by the Maryland General Assembly at the height of the economic crisis slowed the foreclosure process in Maryland between August 2010 and June 2012, when many states were posting their highest foreclosure numbers. Maryland’s foreclosure rate was expected to decline as the housing market improved and the backlog of foreclosures worked their way out of the pipeline.

The Maryland State Conference of NACCP Branches is trying to reach out to homeowners in the state to help deal with mortgage issues before foreclosure.

The organization will host an event this Saturday in Prince George’s County with Ocwen Financial Corp. connecting residents who hold mortgages from the company with Ocwen Home Retention Agents and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development financial counselors to explore loan modification options and possible principal reduction.

Edsel Brown, chair of the Economic Development Committee of the Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches, said that his organization decided to hold the event in Prince George’s County because foreclosures have disproportionately impacted black residents in that jurisdiction.

“Of course we’re concerned [about the foreclosure rate]. The key is what can we do to alleviate the process,” Brown said.


About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.