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Foreclosure rate high here

Families in Douglas County are having a harder time hanging on to their homes than other counties in the region.

Douglas County recorded 147 foreclosures in 2008, according to a new report from the Minnesota Home Ownership Center.

Foreclosures for other counties in the west central area were:

Otter Tail - 101

Grant - 13

Stevens - 12

Pope - 18

Becker - 64

Wilkin - 16

Traverse - 4

Clay - 76

Douglas County's foreclosure rate - the number of foreclosed mortgages as a percent of owner-occupied households - was between 1 and 1.7 percent, the highest percentage in the nine-county region.

Statewide, Douglas County's foreclosure rate trailed behind the rates recorded in 18 other Minnesota counties that were mostly located in the Twin Cities region.

Some Douglas County families are getting help to prevent foreclosures, according to the report.

Foreclosure counseling provided through the Minnesota Home Ownership Center prevented 38 foreclosures in Douglas County in 2008. In the nine-county region, only Otter Tail County, with 51, had more foreclosures prevented.

A total of 81 households in Douglas County, between 0.8 percent and 1.1 percent of its total households, received services through the Minnesota Home Ownership Center last year. On a percentage basis, that puts the county third in the nine-county region, behind Grant and Wilkin counties.

The report also examined why homeowners fall behind on their mortgage payments. Here are the reasons listed for defaults:

Reduction in income - 35 percent

Loss of income - 15 percent

Poor budget management skills - 12 percent

Medical issues - 10 percent

Increase in loan payment - 9 percent

Divorce/separation - 6 percent

Increase in expenses - 4 percent

Death of family member - 1 percent

Business venture failed - 1 percent

Other - 6 percent