January 13, 2009

Foreclosures jumped by 295 in county in 2008

Racine County had 1,101 foreclosures in 2008, an increase of 295, or 37%, more than 2007. Percentagewise, the county's increase in foreclosures was almost double the state's average.

The numerical increase here was the third largest in Wisconsin, behind only Milwaukee County, up 785 to 6,468, a 14% increase, and Dane County, up 415 to 1,312, a jump of 46%.
Stories about two high-profile, Main Street, foreclosures:
The Christmas House
The Miller House
Overall, Wisconsin had 25,547 foreclosures, an increase of 4,496 over 2007, up 21%. See county-by-county chart here, compiled by the director of State Courts Office, and based on foreclosure actions filed in Wisconsin Circuit Courts.

Director of State Courts A. John Voelker and Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said court administrators are making an effort to prepare for the influx of cases, and to protect the rights of both creditors and borrowers. .

A statement they released today said:
The court system has provided educational programs on mortgage laws and regulations for judges and court staff, and some judges have developed procedures to help ensure litigants are communicating in an effort to settle their disputes.

Also, Abrahamson and Voelker said the court system is communicating with court systems across the country to examine which programs may best help the parties resolve the difficult issues fairly and facilitate settlement, if possible.

One program – an alternative dispute resolution program started in other states – is being piloted in Wisconsin by Chief Judge William D. Dyke, Iowa County Circuit court. Dyke initiated a local rule that requires lenders who file a foreclosure action as of Jan. 1, 2009, to notify defendants that foreclosure mediation is an option under the state’s alternative dispute resolution statute. Foreclosure filings in Iowa County jumped from 58 in 2006 to 92 in 2007 and 105 in 2008.

“We’re fostering a discussion between the parties, and that discussion can take into consideration the loss of a job, for example,” Dyke said.

The mortgage crisis is affecting the system, but it doesn’t have to be devastating to the courts or the parties involved, Dyke said. Judges, clerks of court and district court administrators report that in many foreclosure actions, the borrower is not represented in court. The increase in filings also will increase demand on the court system’s resources for self-represented litigants.

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