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Counter to national trend, foreclosures in Washington climb


The number of foreclosures in Washington state has jumped so far this year compared with last year, counter to the national trend. 

Bank repossessions climbed 78 percent in the first half of this year, according to the foreclosure-data firm RealtyTrac. New foreclosure filings have risen as well even though, nationally, they’re dropping.

Real estate economist Matthew Gardner says it’s not because all of a sudden a lot more people can’t pay their mortgages.

He says lawsuits in Washington state artificially suppressed the number of foreclosures in 2011 and part of last year. Now that those cases have been settled or ruled on, he says banks are moving ahead, which may give people shopping for a home a little more hope of finding something.

"It’s not going to be the cure-all to the housing shortage, but flushing these homes through the system is amazingly important," Gardner said. 

Gardner says the reason why it’s not a cure-all is that there are still a lot of people underwater on their mortgages, meaning they owe more than their houses are worth. He says they’re waiting for home prices to keep rising before they list their homes. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.