Local News

New law aims to keep foreclosures down

Posted November 13, 2008 4:53 p.m. EST
Updated November 13, 2008 6:57 p.m. EST

— North Carolina’s foreclosure figures are lower than at this time last year, and the state is hoping to keep the numbers down with a new law to give homeowners more time to renegotiate lower rates.

Lenders are now required to notify the North Carolina Banking Commission 45 days before filing foreclosure paperwork.

The law took effect Nov. 1.

“We've had 5,000 loans registered in our database, and we've sent out 5,000 letters to homeowners urging them to take action to avoid foreclosure,” said Mark Pearce, deputy commissioner of banks.

Disabled veteran Jim Richardson's home, which he shares with his mother and brother, was scheduled to be sold at auction next week.

“It’s been a struggle. It’s been very frustrating,” Richardson said.

Richardson said that when medical bills piled up, his mortgage payments fell behind.

Richardson faced foreclosure last month, when the state Banking Commission stepped in to help. The commission helped to get a 30-day hold on the auction to give Richardson time to try to negotiate a new rate and payment plan with his bank.

On Thursday, Richardson said HSBC Bank offered to reduce his interest rate from 8.25 to 5.25. He said the bank has agreed to stop foreclosure proceedings and has set up a manageable plan to pay the overdue amount.

HSBC Bank representatives told WRAL that Richardson’s foreclosure is on hold indefinitely.

Foreclosure statistics

North Carolina ranked 29th nationally in foreclosures, according to figures released Thursday by RealtyTrac, a national company that follows the market. An additional 3,000 homes entered foreclosure last month, which was an increase of 30 percent from September.

Compared with September, Wake County saw a 67 percent jump in the number of homes in some stage of the foreclosure process.

Cumberland County had a 31 percent jump, and Johnston County’s foreclosures were up 28 percent. Orange County foreclosures were up 6 percent.

In Durham County, October foreclosures were down 6 percent from September. In June, Durham launched a campaign to prevent home foreclosures. It uses workshops and financial counseling to encourage homeowners in financial trouble to seek help early.