Everyone wants to know if the state has seen the worst of the foreclosure crisis. Based on the data for 2009, Wisconsinites will have to wait at least another year before they see improvement.

The number of properties facing foreclosure in Wisconsin civil court rose from 23,263 in 2008 to 28,671 in 2009–an increase of 23.2 percent, according to Andy Lewis, University of Wisconsin-Extension community development specialist. Lewis says that while this annual increase is slightly higher than the increase in 2008 (21 percent), it is lower than the increases in 2007 (26.2 percent) and 2006 (30.8 percent). Increases in the fourth quarter were more moderate as the state saw a 12.1 percent increase in foreclosures when compared to the fourth quarter of 2008.

The rate of foreclosure cases has gone from .75 cases per 100 households in 2007 to 1.1 cases per 100 households in 2009. In other words, about one percent of the households in Wisconsin were facing foreclosure in 2009.

Lewis says that the number of foreclosure cases has been rising steadily since 2000, with the exception of 2004, when there was a slight dip. “Given the 23 percent increase in the number of properties facing foreclosures in 2009, and the continued increase in the fourth quarter, it would be difficult to predict a decline in foreclosures for 2010. The trends simply indicate a less fortunate conclusion,” he says.

The good news is that Lewis says the data indicate that the number of foreclosure cases in the hardest-hit counties appears to be slowing. “Nearly half of the state’s foreclosure court cases in the last two years have been located in the urban counties of Milwaukee, Waukesha, Dane, Brown, Kenosha, Racine and Rock Counties. Only two of those counties had a fourth quarter increase higher than the state average–Kenosha and Waukesha Counties. Brown and Rock Counties actually experienced a drop in fourth quarter foreclosure cases.”

The analysis of foreclosure cases is based on records from the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access system. Duplicate cases for the same property have been removed to allow for analysis of the actual number of properties facing foreclosure.

The current data includes an estimate for Portage County because the county does not report to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access system. “Not all foreclosure cases end in an actual foreclosure, but the case data offers the most current perspective on what is happening with foreclosure activity and is based on a public data source,” says Lewis.

Lewis will continue working with Russ Kashian and the Fiscal Economic Research Center at UW-Whitewater to collect and analyze foreclosure data through at least 2010.

Foreclosure data for the fourth quarter and 2000-2009 is available in a spreadsheet format that can be customized to specific counties here.

Source: University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension