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Foreclosures soar in county
Times photo: Anthony Wahl For sale signs are increasingly common throughout the area, which saw a dramatic increase in foreclosures in 2010. The numbers mirror a bleak national housing market and are likely to continue for at least another year, experts say.
MONROE - The number of foreclosures on Green County properties last year jumped 33 percent compared to 2009.

Green County Circuit Court confirmed the sales of 88 foreclosed properties in 2010, 22 more than the previous year.

Since 2007, completed foreclosures have almost doubled.

In 2007, 46 foreclosures were confirmed, and in 2008 and 2009, there were 66 foreclosures each year.

Before the housing market melt-down in early 2007, foreclosures of homes resulting in sheriff's sales increased from 10 in 1997 to 58 in 2006, according to Green County Sheriff's Department statistics. The highest number in a given year during that period was 67 in 2005.

Not all foreclosures filed to be served end up going through a sheriff's sale and a court confirmation.

The Green County Sheriff's Department received 196 foreclosures filed to be served in 2010, a 28 percent increase from 2009 when they served 153 foreclosures, according to Chief Deputy Dick Wyttenbach.

Foreclosure filings in Green County have more than doubled since 2007, when 90 were filed. In 2008, 110 were filed.

Between 2008 and 2009, Green County foreclosure filings were up 39 percent, compared to 24 percent for the state.

"Almost all (filings) come from law firms representing the plaintiff," said Wyttenbach.

Deputy Steve Hoesly, who serves most of the foreclosure notices, believes the number of filings in 2010 was slightly lower than expected, because of lenders' foreclosure procedures.

"Once (lenders) get that figured out, they'll start again," he said.

The December edition of the Obama Administration's Housing Scorecard, released December 22, showed foreclosure starts and completions dropped significantly nation-wide in November, as lenders review internal servicing procedures. The housing scorecard, put out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is a comprehensive report on the nation's housing market.

According to HUD, many foreclosure actions have been delayed, leading to a 21 percent drop in foreclosure activity in November, while lenders review internal procedures related to foreclosure processing. The decline is likely to be temporary as lenders eventually revise and resubmit foreclosure paperwork in the coming months.

The typical foreclosure timeline in Wisconsin can take more than a year to complete.

From the time a lender files a foreclosure lawsuit in county court, and even after the court renders a judgment in favor of the lender, a home owner can negotiate to redeem his property.

"Since taking office in 2009, the (Obama) Administration's efforts have helped millions families stay in their homes and helped millions more refinance, but the data clearly show that the market remains extremely fragile," said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic.

The programs put in place include additional refinancing assistance, emergency loans to help unemployed homeowners and ensuring help is available to homeowners as early as possible.

Tim Massad, acting assistant secretary for the federal Financial Stability, said the new programs are "a major reason why there have been more than twice as many modifications and other foreclosure alternatives as foreclosure completions since April 2009."

More than 3.9 million mortgage aid offers were initiated between April 2009 and the end of October 2010 - more than double the number of foreclosure completions during that time (1.7 million).

Some homeowners may have received help from more than one program.

The December Housing Scorecard also showed continued home affordability in the housing market, with interest rates near record lows, but the market remains fragile, as prices are unsettled.