- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nearly 68,000 homes in the Washington region have been in the foreclosure process during the past 12 months, the same number we saw in the previous 12 months.

You have to look deeper, however, to find the real story. Despite a lack of change overall, when you look at individual counties, you discover that foreclosures shot up in some areas and fell in others.

Take Charles County as an example. About 2,400 homes were in the foreclosure process in the 12 months from June 2009 through May 2010. That was a whopping 85 percent higher than we saw from June 2008 through May 2009.

Charles isn’t the only county where the number of foreclosures has increased dramatically. Frederick is up 70 percent, Prince George’s is up 53 percent, and Montgomery is up 21 percent.

Things are very different in Virginia. But let me first say that foreclosures spiked earlier in Virginia, so it would be inaccurate to say foreclosures aren’t a problem there. It’s just that Virginia got hit by the foreclosure wave earlier and is recovering from it earlier.

That’s evident in the fact that foreclosures were down 17 percent in Loudoun, 22 percent in Fairfax and 36 percent in Prince William County.

Although the total number of foreclosures in Prince William has fallen, that county is still dealing with a very high rate of foreclosures. When we talk about the foreclosure rate, we are not looking at the total number of foreclosure filings, but rather the percentage of homes in a county that are in foreclosure.

Prince William County has roughly 138,000 housing units, and 6.2 percent of those were somewhere in the foreclosure process during the past 12 months. That’s much higher than in nearby Fairfax County, where the foreclosure rate was 2.9 percent.

Until recently, Prince William had the region’s highest rate of foreclosures. Prince George’s County has inherited that unfortunate title with a rate of 6.3 percent.

However, the flood of foreclosures in Prince William caused prices to fall so much that buyers came running, sales exploded, and prices eventually started climbing back up. Perhaps we’ll see the same things happen in Prince George’s County in the coming year or two.

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