Despite other indicators that the local economy is improving, foreclosure filings and sheriff's sales remain high in York County.
Unemployment has dropped to 6.6 percent, local realtors have reported increased sales and the number of credit card lawsuits have decreased.
But foreclose filings and sheriff's sales have remained high since a surge of new listings filed during the recession.
"I wish it would slow down for everyone else's sake," said Prothonotary Pam Lee.
Her York County office processed 1,823 foreclosures in 2013 — a 4.7 percent jump from the 1,740 filings in 2012. And the filings in 2012 were a 40 percent increase from the 1,239 filings in 2011.
This year is off to a similar start. In January, 158 foreclosures were filed, 95 were filed in February and 58 were filed through March 13.
While February's numbers seem like an improvement, Lee noted, "it was a short month."
In addition to the month's having fewer filing days, February also dumped a lot of snow on northeast cities, such as Philadelphia and New York, where big law firms operate and typically initiate foreclosure filings.
"It's possible the weather impacted people getting to work and filing foreclosures," Lee said.
Local foreclosures have been high for so long that 95 filings are an anomaly instead of the norm, she said.
The reasons: It's unclear why foreclosures are still high, but Lee said it could be because a lot of people are still out of work.
Though the unemployment rate has slowly dropped to 6.6 percent, it's still a long way off from the 4 percent rate York County had before the recession. Also, the jobs that have been added are mostly in the service industry and don't pay a high wage.
"With the number (of foreclosures) staying high, it makes me wonder if people don't have enough income because they can't afford to stay in their houses," Lee said.
The high number of foreclosures has led to a high number of sheriff's sales. When a mortgage borrower fails to pay the amount due on a home loan, lenders can file judicial foreclosure which allows them to sell the property and pay off the outstanding debt. That sale of property is carried out by the local sheriff.
For the Monday, April 14, sheriff's sale, 278 properties are listed — 11 fewer than the 289 new listings in February.
During the last sale in February, 153 properties sold, according to the sheriff's office. Those sales included 99 new properties and 54 sales that had been postponed from December.
Credit card suits: If there's any bright spot, it's that Lee's office is seeing fewer credit card suits, she said.
Last month, 43 credit card suits were filed, and 25 were filed in January.
The number of credit card suits has remained below 100 since April 2012.
"Maybe that's a good sign," Lee said. "People have been able to clear up credit card debt. It's a little harder to clear up a foreclosure."
—Reach Candy Woodall at firstname.lastname@example.org.