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Fair Aims to Reduce Foreclosures

Posted April 23, 2008

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— With thousands of homeowners in the state in the midst of foreclosure, a fair is being held at North Carolina State University to help people address predatory lending.

The “Save Our Homes Fair,” held by ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), aims to help people avoid foreclosure. The event will be from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday. It is free and open to the public.

In March, banks took some form of action against 3,300 hundred properties in North Carolina. The number is below the average, but up about 2 percent from a year ago.

“Foreclosures are affecting everyone,” said state Deputy Commissioner of Banks Mark Pearce. He stressed that some foreclosures can be prevented.

“I knew I could afford the house, but had the terms been spelled out clearly, I would not have taken the loan. I probably would’ve gone a different route,” said Christopher Benjamin, who is facing foreclosure.

Benjamin said a lender told him the interest rate might go up, but also could go down based on the economy. So Benjamin signed the papers.

Benjamin’s rate soon went from 6 percent to 12 percent.

“If you reach out there, there are options most of the time for people,” Pearce said.

Benjamin said banks are working with him to modify his loan. He said he will do everything in his power to keep his home.

"Be aware. Be very aware. You got to do the resarch and understand the terms of the loan," Benjamin advises others.

Foreclosures also affect the neighbors. Some studies show that for every home foreclosed, property values in the neighborhood go down 1 percent.

Home foreclosures across the Tar Heel state fell 18.6 percent in March from February totals, according to statistics released Tuesday morning by mortgage information firm RealtyTrac.

The year-over-year increase in bank repossessions was even more dramatic in some states: 619 percent in Arizona; 597 percent in New York; 557 percent in California; and 464 percent in Florida.

Sen. Janet Cowell (D-Wake County) said the problem is something “we all need to work on.

"We'll continue to be vigilant as we go into the short session to see if there's additional state legislation needed (on preventing foreclosures)," Cowell said.

Cowell says the state Legislature has allocated an extra $300,000 this year to fund credit counseling services across the state to help families who are facing foreclosure or new to the home-buying process.

The NC Office of the Commissioner of Banks predicts a 10 to 20 percent increase of foreclosures across the state in 2008. They attribute the change to an increased number of subprime loans facing "payment shock;" slowing growth of home prices coupled with high leverage ratios; and spillover from slowing economic conditions.

Durham Regional Community Development Group is also holding a foreclosure awarenesss event on Saturday. The 9:30 a.m. event, at the Hayti Heritage Center on Fayetteville Street, will focus on neighborhoods in Durham with a high rate of foreclosure.


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  • enigma1469 Apr 24, 2008

    Personal responsibility. Enough said.

  • unc83 Apr 24, 2008

    We bought a house last year and had 100% financing, but the builder paid closing cost and came down on the price. This way when we moved in, we owed less on the house than it was worth. If my brother had not been in banking, I would have gotten raked over the coals!!! DON'T TRUST ANYONE involved with the purchase of your home, always get advise from another source.

  • wood1 Apr 24, 2008

    for all you house flippers that got caught trying to make $$ in the real estate market, tough, you took a risk and lost. For those that had to lie about your income or pay interest only to get in the house, you couldn't afford it to begin with . Don't come crying to the government to bail you out, i can't pay anymore taxes!!!!

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Apr 24, 2008

    "No more "no downpayment" loans. If one doesn't put any money down, it doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to realize the bank MUST have a higher interst rate to cover a higher risk the individual will walk away from the loan."

    Saving up thousands of $$ towards a downpayment can be very difficult for people on a moderate income so let's not disdain all first-time homebuyer programs. I personally took advantage of 2 of these programs which helped me with my downpayment and I have been in my house 9 years and have never, ever missed a payment. Used sensibly and responsibly, first-time homebuyer programs can promote responsible homeownership.

  • SaveEnergyMan Apr 24, 2008

    Don't homebuyers have a real estate lawyer that prepares the paperwork? If you do not understand the terms, then you must ask, answering those questions is the lawyer's job. Also, buyers typically have an agent that should know the answers to mortgage questions. True, both stand to gain if you buy the house, which is a conflict of interest. However, if you don't understand something, then you are responsible for figuring it out and the consequences of those actions. People today are too relient on the ignorance defense - just didn't know and didn't want to know, so bail me out!

  • Sidekick Apr 24, 2008

    High school needs 2 courses for every student. Basic real estate buying/selling and private insurance. At least the future home buyers/consumers would at least been exposed to the two most costly entities of their lives.

  • Gatsby Apr 24, 2008

    moral hazard - (economics) the lack of any incentive to guard against a risk when you are protected against it (as by insurance); "insurance companies are exposed to a moral hazard if the insured party is not honest"

  • bobdillin123789 Apr 23, 2008

    hey, lets all go buy a house, not understand what loan we are getting then complain when we are in foreclosure, the govt will bail us out!!

  • whatelseisnew Apr 23, 2008

    Yes there is an originator of the problem. It is every person that signed for a loan they could not afford. Funny to read ACORN is involved in this; they have been part of the problem. Now of course our grand old congress helped create this problem by changing laws and pressuring for sub-primes. I really do not care if the value of my home goes to zero. I purchased it to live in it. Glad to see some folks are working on a way to keep themselves in their homes. Far too many, took the perceived easy stroll away from the problem. Some had no choice, but some did. As always, my wallet gets tapped by the fools in Congress. Wish people would wake up and throw them all out.

  • PaulRevere Apr 23, 2008

    ACORN is an extreme left-wing group of people who are under investigation all over the country for all kinds of fraud. You can google it all day if you want. Too bad WRAL didn't mention that. As for the dude in the piece, if he didn't know what an ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) is then perhaps he should've done some more research. I feel zero sympathy.