Bankruptcy filings in Western New York continue to fall.
The number of new filings in August dropped 17 percent from a year ago, to 446, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York. It was the seventh straight month of year-over-year declines in the 17-county district.
Through August, the number of filings this year was down 11.5 percent from last year, to 3,900.
Brad Davidzik, of Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, said two factors continue to fuel the decline in filings: lenders being careful about extending credit, and consumers being conservative about their spending.
“Every time we look at the (filings) statistics, they continue to go down by large chunks,” Davidzik said.
The eight-county Western New York region accounted for 68 percent of the cases filed, while the nine-county Rochester area accounted for 32 percent.
Of the 304 cases filed in the Buffalo region in August, 207 were Chapter 7 cases, according to court statistics. Under Chapter 7, debtors can liquidate their assets to pay off debts and then erase any remaining amounts owed so they can start over.
The 446 filings in Western New York in August was the lowest total for any month this year since February.
Will these big year-over-year drops continue? Davidzik said he believes there is still a backlog of foreclosures in the pipeline that could generate additional filings. But in general, he said, consumers are still wary about the economy and don’t want to risk getting overextended, mindful of the financial woes caused by the Great Recession.
If the yearlong filings trend continues, 2013 will be the fourth straight year in which bankruptcy filings drop from the year before. And those annual totals have dropped sharply over the years, from nearly 22,000 filings in 2005 to about 6,200 last year. There was a surge in filings in 2005 just before new federal bankruptcy rules took effect that made it tougher and more expensive for debtors to write off their debts.