(8/21) With news outlets everyday
reporting that the “housing crisis” is a growing problem, an investigation into
foreclosure rates in Frederick County and the surrounding areas reveals that
Frederick County is on par with surrounding counties in Maryland, through
significantly more than its neighbor to the north, Adams County, Pa.
Comparing the number of homes entering or
in foreclosure according to Realtytrac.com and the number of housing units
according to 2006 U.S. Census data, 0.42 percent of homes in Frederick County
are in foreclosure. That rate is on par with Carroll County, which has a
0.45-percent foreclosure rate, Montgomery County, which has a 0.43-percent
foreclosure rate and Washington County, which has a 0.44-percent foreclosure
rate. Overall, Maryland has a 0.46-percent foreclosure rate statewide.
Emmitsburg Mayor James Hoover said that
there are a lot of reasons for home foreclosures, but he believes much of it
has to do with those types of mortgages.
“A lot of people were put in a situation, given an offer they couldn’t refuse,”
Hoover said. “Immediate satisfaction overwhelmed long-term reality.”
Although Hoover said homeowners are not
blameless for the current “crisis”, he credits some of the blame to
homebuilders and banks who practiced “bad business” and became greedy.
“[Home owners] were blindsided be the
greed of others,” Hoover said. “Now those home owners will suffer and there
will be a major impact on the state economy which will be resolved somewhat on
the back of taxpayers.”
Although Maryland’s foreclosure rate is
lower than many other states, foreclosure is still a rising concern of many
residents and government officials, including local officials.
Emmitsburg’s neighbors to the north seem
to be fairing better. Carroll Valley, Pa., has no homes in foreclosure
according to Realtytrac.com and Adams County, Pa. has a .02 percent foreclosure
“That doesn’t surprise me,” said Bill
Reinke, a Carroll Valley Borough council member who is a former mortgage
broker. “Our (Adams County home) values didn’t get as out of control so values
have held better.”
Reinke said the declining market in
Frederick County is different than Pennsylvania, where the market hasn’t felt
as great of a decline.
“My hypothesis as to the lower
[foreclosure] rates is A- the prices weren’t out of hand… and B- Since the
values tend to hold better here people aren’t in an upside down mortgage,”
An upside down mortgage means the owner
owes more on the loan than the value of the home, which creates a problem when
trying to sell of home and get out from under the debt. If Adams County has a
lower upside-down mortgage rate, as Reinke believes, homeowners have an easier
time of selling their homes or working with their bank. If the home values in
Adams County did not get out of hand, as Reinke believes they did in Frederick
County, homeowners are not feeling the crash of the market as much as those in
According to the “Property Foreclosures in
Maryland- First Quarter 2008” packet from the Maryland Department of Housing
and Community Development, mortgage defaults rose 17.3 percent in the first
quarter of 2008 compared to the fourth quarter of 2007.
Local Realtor Libby Briggs said many of
the homes in foreclosure in Emmitsburg are new homes, mainly in Pembrook and
Brookfield, that were purchased in 2005, 2006 and early 2007.
According to Realtytrac.com, as of August
19, there were 10 homes either entering or in foreclosure in Emmitsburg. In
comparison with data collected from the U.S. Census, the 2000 census records
880 housing units in Emmitsburg, making the foreclosure rate 1.14 percent in
But Emmitsburg is not alone in its plight;
Thurmont had a 1.5-percent foreclosure rate. Those rates seem miniscule to
surrounding Maryland municipalities; Walkersville had a 5.09-percent
foreclosure rate, Brunswick a 3.3-percent foreclosure rate, Myersville a
8.61-percent foreclosure rate and Frederick a 2.96-percent foreclosure rate,
but Hoover is still concerned.
“It’s a growing problem,” Hoover said.
“People will and have lost homes. I don’t think Emmitsburg is more immune to
good or bad more than any place else.”
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