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Bank of America and GMAC are firing up their formidable foreclosure machines again today, after a brief pause.
But hard-pressed homeowners like Lydia Sweetland are asking why lenders often balk at a less disruptive solution: short sales, which allow owners to sell deeply devalued homes for less than what remains on their mortgage.
Ms. Sweetland, 47, tried such a sale this summer out of desperation. She had lost her high-paying job and drained her once-flush retirement savings, and her bank, GMAC, wouldn’t modify her mortgage. After seven months of being unable to pay her mortgage, she decided that a short sale would give her more time to move out of her Phoenix home and damage her credit rating less than a foreclosure.
She owes $206,000 and found a buyer who would pay $200,000. Last Friday, GMAC rejected that offer and said it would foreclose in seven days, even though, according to Ms. Sweetland’s broker, the bank estimates it will make $19,000 less on a foreclosure than on a short sale.
“I guess I could salute and say, ‘O.K., I’m walking, here’s the keys,’ ” says Ms. Sweetland, as she sits in a plastic Adirondack chair on her patio. “But I need a little time, and I don’t want to just leave the house vacant. I loved this neighborhood.”
GMAC declined to be interviewed about Ms. Sweetland’s case.
The halt in most foreclosures the last few weeks gave a hint of hope to homeowners like Ms. Sweetland, who found breathing room to pursue alternatives. Consumer advocates took the view that this might pressure banks to offer mortgage modifications on better terms and perhaps drive interest in short sales, which are rising sharply in many corners of the nation.
But some major lenders took a quick inventory of their foreclosure practices and insisted their processes were sound. They now seem intent on resuming foreclosures. And that could have a profound effect on many homeowners.
In Arizona, thousands of homeowners have turned to short sales to avoid foreclosures, and many end up running a daunting procedural gantlet. Several of the largest lenders have set up complicated and balky application systems.
Concerns about fraud are one of the reasons lenders are so careful about short sales. Sometimes well-off homeowners want to portray their finances as dire and cut their losses on a property. In other instances, distressed homeowners try to make a short sale to a relative, who would then sell it back to them (a practice that is illegal). A recent industry report estimates that short sale fraud occurs in at least 2 percent of sales and costs banks about $300 million annually.
Short sales are also hindered when homeowners fail to forward the proper papers, have tax liens or cannot find a buyer.
Because of such concerns, homeowners often are instructed that they must be delinquent and they must apply for a modification first, even if chances of approval are slim. The aversion to short sales also leads banks to take many months to process applications, and some lenders set unrealistically high sales prices — known as broker price opinions — and hire workers who say they are poorly trained.
As a result, quite a few homeowners seeking short sales — banks will not provide precise numbers — topple into foreclosure, sometimes, critics say, for reasons that are hard to understand. Ms. Sweetland and her broker say they are confounded by her foreclosure, because in Arizona’s depressed real estate market, foreclosed homes often sit vacant for many months before banks are able to resell them.
Excerpt from article on CNBC.com, written by Michael Powell for The New York Times. For the full article, click here.
For more information regarding short sales or foreclosures, speak with a Realtor who specializes in these subjects here.
Foreclosed homes reached a record total of 102,134 in September according to Melly Alazraki in her article, “More Than 100,000 Homes Repossessed in September,” for DailyFinance.com. This data is from RealtyTrac, a real estate data company. Compared to the third quarter, foreclosure filings have increased 4%. The number of foreclosed homes has crossed the 100,000 mark for the first time in a single month.
“Lenders foreclosed on a record number of properties in September and in the third quarter, taking a bite out of the backlog of distressed properties where the foreclosure process was delayed by foreclosure prevention efforts over the past 20 months,” said James Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac.
According to Alazraki, a total of 288,345 properties were repossesed during the quarter – an increase of 7% from the previous quarter. Foreclosure filings rose nearly 4% to 930,437 from the previous quarter, but declined 1% from the same period last year. Forclosure filings include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.
Earlier today, Yahoo.com published an article regarding the 10 Greatest Cities for Young Adults and Charlotte, NC was included! Feel free to read the excerpt below:
“Free from ties to kids or a mortgage, young adults can settle virtually anywhere they choose. So which place is best for you when the world is your oyster?
Here are 10 cities in the U.S. that offer exceptional opportunities for those starting out in life. We began our search using the criteria we used to select our overall list of Best Cities for the Next Decade: healthy economies fueling new job growth. We fine-tuned our search using other youth-friendly factors such as large percentages of people under 35, cost of living and rental costs, culture, nightlife, and the time you’re likely to spend in traffic. Take a look – and tell us what you think.
Metro population: 1,745,524
Cost-of-living index: 94
Median monthly rent: $803 (average is $819)
Average annual wage: $41,190
Unemployment rate: 10.9%
Percentage of Gen Y residents: 21.7%
Top employers: Carolinas Healthcare System, Wells Fargo/Wachovia Corp., Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Bank of America, Wal-Mart Stores, Presbyterian Regional Healthcare, Delhaize America
Charlotte has seen explosive growth over the last 20 years, and is now the second-largest banking center in the country (after New York). The city took it on the chin in the 2008-2009 meltdown, but it should offer lots of entry-level jobs for college graduates as the financial sector recovers. Despite the towering new skyscrapers, and a vibrant Uptown district, it’s still possible to live comfortably here on a tight budget.
PROS: A cost of living that skews well below the national average, reasonable rents, a bustling downtown still being developed, high-paying advancement opportunities in the financial sector
CONS: Hot, humid summers, smog alerts, high (but falling) crime rates, you’ll need a car (average commute lasts 24 minutes)”
According to a new study from Lender Processing Services (LPS), GSE foreclosure starts have been accelerating and are currently at all-time highs. From May to June, foreclosures initiated by Fannie and Freddie jumped 21 percent.
The GSEs’ prime borrowers are performing the worst. Foreclosure rates among the agencies’ prime loans have soared nearly 400 percent since January 2008, with a notable hastening tracked over the last two months, LPS reports. That increase is second only to the swell seen in non-agency “jumbo” mortgages, for more than $729,750.
LPS says the recent momentum in GSE foreclosure starts coincides with Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) cancellations, with most of the volume concentrated in the very late stages of delinquency (six-plus months).
The latest HAMP statistics from the Treasury showed an extremely elevated number of cancellations from trial plans, as many borrowers who received temporary modifications have not been able to verify their income or have missed trial payments.
As of the end of June, 520,814 HAMP trials had been cancelled – more than have been converted to permanent status. In addition, 8,823 permanent modifications have been cancelled under the federal program.
In contrast, LPS says foreclosure starts have remained relatively stable over the last several months for the rest of the industry. The company puts the overall foreclosure rate as of the end of June at 3.65 percent, but notes that foreclosure inventories are still elevated.
According to LPS’ market data, total foreclosure starts for 2010 are at 1,456,000. That stat is lower than 1,682,000 for the same period in 2009, but up from 1,245,000 in the first half of 2008.
Bailout watchdogs on Wednesday raised a red flag over the Obama administration’s program for helping homeowners avoid foreclosure, saying the multibillion-dollar fund is not working and the Treasury Department refuses to fix it.
Warning that the inefficiencies could hold the economy back, the officials told a Senate panel that changes should be made and that Treasury needs to come clean. One official called the program “one of the greatest failures in transparency and accountability” in the $700 billion bailout.
A $50 billion fund was carved out of the Wall Street bailout for the mortgage program. The housing market being a root cause of the 2008 economic crisis, the money was pitched as a way to help millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure and get the economy back on track.
But a fraction of that money, $248 million, has been spent.
Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of the congressional TARP Oversight Panel, said that for every one family that wins a permanent mortgage modification, “10 more have been moved out through foreclosure.”
“This is a program that’s just — it’s behind the curve,” she told the panel on Wednesday.
Special inspector general for the financial bailouts Neil Barofsky said the program has not “put an appreciable dent in foreclosure filings” during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the $700 billion bank bailout. He also said the Treasury Department has ignored earlier demands that it set clearer goals for the program. A Treasury official said Wednesday that the bailout program has had “a major effect on the ability of people to stay in their homes.” The official argued that before the program was launched, it was not designed to prevent all foreclosures and not designed to help investors or speculators — or those with vacation homes or million-dollar homes.
More foreclosures could force down home prices and further hurt the ailing housing industry.
Part of the problem with the Home Affordable Modification Program has been that plenty of homeowners are being accepted into a trial period, but relatively few are having their loan changes made permanent. Warren said just 165,000 have moved into permanent modifications with help from the TARP program, though more than that have advanced through a similar program administered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Barofsky said Treasury is giving mortgage companies too much leeway to decide which homeowners will qualify for a program to reduce the principal balance of their mortgages.
The program relies on voluntary cooperation from mortgage companies, Warren said. She said many of the mortgage debt collectors make more money when they foreclose than they do when helping homeowners.
“We can’t have a program in which, in effect, we put incentives on the table paid for by the taxpayers to say, ‘Please do the right thing here,'” she said. “We have a crisis, and the consequences of not having cooperation from the servicers … (is) felt by this entire economy . We need a program with far more urgency and some real teeth in it.”
Article contributed by Fox News