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Charities help foreclosure victims

LOS ANGELES — Carla Waller believes in promises. She was married for 37 years, held one job for 35 and never adopted a pet she didn’t keep for life. Until now.

Foreclosure is just around the corner, said Waller, 67.

“I know I’m a couple of months out. I can’t do it anymore. I don’t have the income,” she said. “I’m done. There is nothing I can do now.”

The hardest call she had to make was to Foreclosed Upon Pets Inc., to arrange for homes for her pets Jake, Marilyn and Jewels so she can move in with relatives.

“I am very depressed about it and very concerned about where they go because I took them for life and life is not what it should be,” she said.

Waller’s story is all too familiar to Everett Croxson, who founded Las Vegas-based FUPI in 2008.

Croxson, 59, a retired business consultant, was guided by hometown headlines.

In 2009, Croxson bought a five-bedroom home to use as a transition house for the pets. FUPI placed 348 pets that year.

In 2010, it was nearly 500; in 2011, 570; and this year it will be more than 600, Croxson said.

FUPI also works with the unemployed and those too ill or old to handle their pets, but about 30 percent of their pets are foreclosures, Croxson said.

“Real estate agents or cleaning crews call all the time. Maybe they have found a couple of cats in a closet of a foreclosed home,” he said.

In Arizona, which bumped Nevada from the top of the foreclosure rankings in March, the Lost Our Home Pet Foundation in Phoenix does similar work. Founded in 2008, it also relies primarily on fosters although it did open a small shelter in April.

There are about 40 animals in the shelter and 220 in foster care. More than 2,000 have been placed in four years, said founder-executive director Jodi Polanski.

As a mortgage loan officer, Polanski heard story after story, so she started the rescue in her spare time. There was too much work, so she became full-time director and now she and two employees work with 120 volunteers and fosters.

Lost Our Home runs a food bank and a temporary care program for dogs belonging to homeless entering shelters. The dogs are kept for 90 days so owners can get back on their feet.

In Arizona’s Maricopa County, foreclosed homeowners have turned into renters. “Landlords can be pickier and not allow pets or they can require large pet deposits,” Polanski said, forcing people to give up some or all of their animals. The problem will exist until people can qualify for home loans again, she said.

“The economy is looking better in a lot of places, but it’s not better for the animals right now,” Polanski added.

There is no charge to a person relinquishing an animal, but adopters pay $150 per animal at FUPI, $75 for cats and $195 for dogs at Lost Our Home. A vet’s exam, sterilization, shots and a microchip are included.

Polanski said the worst part of her job is turning pets away. “We do have limitations. We have a waiting list. It breaks our hearts every day when there are pets we can’t help,” she said.

A few weeks ago, FUPI rescued two Shih Tzus from an elderly woman who was being transferred to a home for dementia patients. Their fur was so matted with feces, dirt and food, they had to be shaved.

“She loved her dogs, she just didn’t know the state they were in,” Croxson said.

In addition to its own placements, FUPI sends between eight and 14 Animal Foundation dogs to Canada each week, where a pet store chain houses and places them.

“It’s absolutely helpful to our organization to have rescues like FUPI,” said Carly Scholten, Animal Foundation’s director of operations.

In addition to a website and weekly adoption events, Croxson is taking part in county meetings designed to find ways to place more animals, and he does a weekly radio show to recruit volunteers and talk about pets.

For Croxson, the worst part of helping is the loss, guilt and remorse he sees when owners say goodbye to their pets.

He works hard to find homes he believes would please them.

Waller told him Jake needs someone by his side, day and night. “He’s an old person’s dog, though he’s great with kids. His favorite thing to do is lie at your side.”

No matter what, she said, “I hope my puppies are loved as much as I love them.”



Article source:

Foreclosure spike in Harrisburg area might help buyers – Patriot

Mortgage foreclosures are rising again in the midstate, and experts say the upswing could continue for at least two years even if the economy improves.

Foreclosures filed in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon, Perry and York county courthouses are on pace to exceed 2011 totals.

York County has seen the most dramatic increase, with foreclosures running nearly double the amount of the same period last year. County records show 994 foreclosures in the first six months of 2012, compared with 588 in the same period for 2011.

foreclosure.jpgView full size

In Dauphin County, 451 foreclosures filings were recorded in the first half of 2012, well over the 296 filed in the first six months of 2011.

Foreclosures dropped in 2011, but not because of the economy.

Instead, experts said banks put large numbers of foreclosures on hold after the “robosigning” scandal that broke in October 2010.

Lenders were accused of shady practices to rush foreclosures through, such as having employees sign papers without reading them or putting false signatures on documents.

The midstate still is not seeing nearly as many foreclosures as the rest of the country.

However, an increase could be a drag on the area’s housing market, which is starting to bounce back.

But it could also end up being a plus for buyers, who might be able to find a bargain. Foreclosed houses account for roughly one in nine homes on the market in the midstate.

Lenders are catching up

The foreclosure floodgates started reopening after March, when state and federal governments finalized a $25 billion settlement with the nation’s biggest mortgage services over the scandal.

“The trend downward last year was not the result of the market improving, but of intervention in the foreclosure process and delays in the foreclosure process,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, a California-based firm that tracks foreclosure activity nationwide.

“Now the lenders and servicers are catching up with those delayed foreclosures that never went away,” he said.

Blomquist said it could take at least two years for the backlog of properties in foreclosure to work their way through Pennsylvania county courts.

RealtyTrac expects up to another 1.5 million homes nationwide now delinquent on their mortgage to go into foreclosure over the next few years.

And if the economy doesn’t get better, job losses and other financial distress could lead many more properties now underwater — worth less than what is owed — to go into foreclosure.

“The longer housing prices stay in the doldrums the more likely that [homeowners] will decide to walk away and allow their home to go into foreclosure,” Blomquist said.

Signs of recovery

The spike in foreclosures is coming just as the midstate housing market is showing improvement.

The number of homes sold in the second quarter of this year was 12 percent higher than in the same period last year, according to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors.

At least one area real estate agent said he believes the local housing market has bottomed out and is heading up.

For the first time since mid-2007, the region has posted back-to-back quarters showing higher sales volume and more homes sold, as well as an increase in the average price, said Howard W. Hanna III, chairman and CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, on Thursday.

Foreclosures clearly increased in the midstate throughout the downturn. But they have not impacted the local housing market nearly as much as has been the case in other regions of the state and nation.

Blomquist said foreclosed houses made up 11 percent of all sales in the greater Harrisburg area for the first quarter of 2012, compared with a nationwide average of 26 percent.

The Harrisburg-Carlisle area, including Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties, ranks near the bottom of RealtyTrac’s list of metropolitan areas hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis.

Just 1 of every 312 homes is in foreclosure in the midstate, compared with 1 in 126 nationwide.

“It’s really on the low end,” Blomquist said. “You will probably see elevated foreclosure numbers for the next couple of years, but those elevated numbers I do not think will be crippling to the [midstate] housing market, based on what we are seeing now.”

Banks eye quick sales

Robert Hoobler, who specializes in foreclosed properties as broker/owner of Exit Platinum Plus Realty, said foreclosures have put downward pressure on home sale prices in some communities.

But he agreed with Blomquist that foreclosures haven’t had a big impact on this market in general.

Hoobler cited examples, most notably in York County, in which a cash-strapped or bankrupt builder abandoned an unfinished development.

He has seen cases in which a new builder came in to rescue the project, but in place of bigger homes selling in the upper-$300,000s, the new developer built smaller homes selling in the low-$300,000s or upper-$200,000s.

While foreclosures are increasing here and nationally, Blomquist said the number of properties being repossessed by lenders is going down.

Banks will opt for a short sale — accepting less money than what’s owed on the mortgage — to avoid the hassle of owning a foreclosed property.

So the increase in foreclosed properties could be a good thing for buyers looking for a bargain, especially in the midstate, where the supply of affordable housing is tight.

“There will be an increase in the number of properties available for sale going forward, so if you are a buyer you should be expecting to see some more of those listed in the Harrisburg area the next few months,” Blomquist said.

In addition to opportunities for buyers, Hoobler said more foreclosed properties on the market could have a ripple effect that benefits local contractors.

Buyers of foreclosed properties can be required to pay into a repair escrow to qualify for Federal Housing Administration financing to make sure that a run-down property gets fixed up, Hoobler said.

On the rise

Mortgage foreclosure filings this year are on pace to exceed the totals for all of 2011 in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon, Perry and York counties.

Cumberland County:

Through July 18, 2012: 502

All of 2011: 601

Dauphin County:

Through June 30, 2012: 452

All of 2011: 607

Lebanon County:

Through June 30, 2012: 179

All of 2011: 244

York County:

Through June 30, 2012: 994

All of 2011: 1,239

Perry County:

Through July 26, 2012: 64

All of 2011: 91

Note: Some counties had more recent data for 2012. 

Sources: County prothonotary offices


More help appears on the way for midstate homeowners who are in foreclosure or about to be.

Pennsylvania is poised to restart the Homeowner’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. The program ended June 30, 2011, after running out of money.

The federal and state governments recently reached a $25 billion settlement with mortgage service providers over the “robosigning” scandal, which is offering a new lifeline for the assistance program.

Scott Elliott, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, said money from the settlement was transferred to the state Department of Treasury on Wednesday.

Once the agency knows the money is available, Elliott said it will direct banks to again begin issuing notices to homeowners who are three months delinquent on their mortgages.

The notice tells homeowners they have 33 days to apply for the assistance program, which provides loans to eligible owners so they can stay in their home and avoid foreclosure.

Before the assistance program ended in 2011, the program was credited with helping more than 46,000 families since 1983, Elliott said. The program had an 85 percent success rate in eligible families avoiding foreclosure, he said.

Article source:

Foreclosure Prevention Business Owner Pleads Guilty in Major Mortgage Fraud …

(Source: FBI) - WASHINGTON—Carline M. Charles, 41, who operated a business that supposedly would rescue distressed homeowners from foreclosure, pled guilty today to conspiracy to commit bank fraud for her role in a mortgage fraud scheme that cost lenders at least $1 million, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr. and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Charles, of Silver Spring, Maryland, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Honorable James E. Boasberg scheduled her sentencing for October 24, 2012. Charles faces a statutory maximum of five years in prison as well as fines and other penalties. As part of her plea agreement, she agreed to the forfeiture of a money judgment of $838,978, representing her share of proceeds of the crime.

According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Charles represented herself as the owner of CO Property Solutions LLC, a company that offered refinancing options to homeowners in the District of Columbia and Maryland whose properties were facing imminent foreclosure. In fact, she was operating a scheme that ultimately involved 12 homes along with fraudulently obtained mortgages, financial losses for lenders, and evictions for many of the people who turned to her for help.

Charles and others contacted homeowners through solicitation postcards or by telephone, using foreclosure and land records to identify people who were in financial distress. Charles told the homeowners that they could refinance their mortgage loans with the assistance of financial partners or investors so they could buy time to repair their credit. She assured them that their names would remain on the property deeds after this “refinancing.” Later, after a period of about six months, according to Charles, the homeowners could refinance the mortgages and remove the partners or investors from the property deeds.

While the homeowners believed they were refinancing their mortgage loans, in actuality, they were selling outright their properties to straw purchasers recruited by Charles. Charles and others paid the straw purchasers fees of up to $10,000 per transaction in return for use of their personal information to purchase properties. All told, these actions led to mortgage lenders issuing loans of approximately $4 million. Charles arranged to siphon out roughly $1 million of this money from the properties for herself or her company. She used the money to pay her own personal expenses and to continue perpetuating the scheme.

In addition, Charles required many of the distressed homeowners to pay a monthly “mortgage” payment, which she claimed would be forwarded to the lenders or placed in escrow. Many homeowners paid her, as required, providing a total of about $114,000. Charles forwarded the mortgage payments for a period of time but eventually stopped doing so. This led to the foreclosure of 12 properties that had the fraudulently obtained mortgages, the evictions of most of the homeowners, and a loss to the lenders of between $1 million and $2.5 million.

In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen and Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Zia Faruqui, who assisted with the forfeiture aspects of the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler, and former Paralegal Specialist Sarah Reis. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who is prosecuting the case.

Article source:

Herald News: New law will ease foreclosure’s sting

IF OWNING a home is still the American dream, defaulting on your mortgage certainly is a nightmare.

Foreclosure activity in New Jersey was slowed recently by court challengers, but is picking up again with those issues largely resolved. The number of foreclosures in New Jersey rose 66 percent in the second quarter of the year compared with the similar period of 2011, according to RealtyTrac, a California firm that tracks foreclosures nationwide. Additionally, RealtyTrac reports that between May 2011 and May 2012 one in every 2,986 Bergen County households was in foreclosure and that in Passaic County, one in every 1,629 households was in foreclosure during that time frame.

Getting a foreclosure notice in the mail is a jarring, if not traumatic, experience for many homeowners. A home is likely a family’s most significant investment and one they may want to pass on to their children. The threat of losing it is both an economic and emotional blow.

State government has limited power to stop foreclosures, but legislation that took effect last month should at least ensure that homeowners in default are treated fairly. The bill is called the Foreclosure Rescue Protection Act and was sponsored by Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer, D-Passaic, who says that the legislation will “radically change” how foreclosures are handled in New Jersey.

The bill aims to stop so-called foreclosure consultants who have been known to “fix” the situation by buying a house and renting it back to the owner. The problem is that these consultants typically offer to buy outstanding mortgages that are worth less than the home. That allows them to make a profit by selling the home at fair market value.

The bill would try to stop at least some of that by mandating that consultants buying mortgages pay homeowners at least 82 percent of the home’s value, according to an independent appraiser. Other provisions of the bill mandate that consultants be licensed by the state Department of Banking and Insurance, that contracts be written in large type in the language the homeowner wants and that the homeowner has the right to cancel the contract at will.

The bill, which just took effect in mid-June, is a great start, but there is more to do with foreclosures. What we’d like to see revitalized is a bill the governor vetoed in June that would enable some foreclosed and abandoned homes to be converted into affordable housing. A premise of the bill is that abandoned homes on a street detract from the entire neighborhood. Many towns realize that. In Totowa, the borough council just introduced an ordinance allowing the borough to maintain the grounds of foreclosed homes and to place a lien on the property for the cost. Officials in Bloomingdale plan to do essentially the same thing.

Converting foreclosed homes into affordable housing would give people a place to live and reduce the number of abandoned and unkempt properties in residential neighborhoods. We’d like to see the governor’s concerns addressed and the bill passed again.

In the meantime, we’re glad Schaer’s bill is now law and are confident it will make an unpleasant experience for many people fairer and more palatable.

Article source:

Negative Equity Problem Could Make Foreclosure Crisis Even Worse

Almost 60 percent of the nation's largest metropolitan areas saw increased foreclosure activity in the first half of 2012.

Almost 60 percent of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas saw increased foreclosure activity in the first half of 2012.

Just when you thought the housing market might be on the mend, news that foreclosure activity is on the rise across the country reopens a painful wound.

Almost 60 percent of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas saw increased foreclosure activity in the first half of 2012, according to a recent report from foreclosure information website RealtyTrac, with troubled states California and Florida cropping up again as major sources of the country’s foreclosure woes.

As if that weren’t bad enough, things could get a lot worse thanks to the gigantic negative equity problem, which has pushed many homeowners to the brink of foreclosure and put immense pressure on household finances.

Loans currently in the foreclosure process amount to about $45 billion in negative equity, according to RealtyTrac CEO Brandon Moore. But that figure balloons to $1.2 trillion when you add in the more than 12 million underwater mortgages that haven’t started the foreclosure process—26 times the negative equity currently associated with troubled loans.

“40 million Americans choose to pay a mortgage every month and even if just a small fraction of those choose not to do so, things can compound and get much worse pretty quickly,” Moore says.

For the time being, the vast majority of those 12 million or so Americans with underwater mortgages continue to make their monthly payments, but the longer the housing market and economy stay stuck in the mud, the more likely it is they could run into trouble.

But the government’s intervention into the foreclosure process might actually be doing more harm than good, according to Moore. Though improper foreclosure practices have been scrutinized and now more heavily regulated, those actions do little to address the potential the negative equity problem poses to unleash a new, perhaps more devastating flood of foreclosures.

Moore concedes that the National Mortgage Settlement reached earlier this year that requires $17 billion in mortgage principal reductions is a step in the right direction, but the amount pales in comparison to the magnitude of the negative equity situation.

“This is an issue that’s going to get bigger before it gets smaller,” Moore told CNBC in a recent interview. “My concern is that I don’t hear anybody else talking about it and I’m seeing the problem go unaddressed by the big banks [and] by the presidential candidates.”

Meg Handley is a business reporter for U.S. News World Report. You can reach her at and follow her on Twitter.

Article source:

Coakley: Bill Will Help Homeowners Avoid Unnecessary Foreclosures

BOSTON — A bill that would make substantial changes to the way home foreclosures are managed in Massachusetts is now waiting for a signature from Gov. Patrick.

The bill, passed by the Massachusetts House and Senate earlier this week, would push banks toward rewriting the terms of some existing mortgages, rather than moving them into foreclosure.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, who pushed for the the legislation, joined WBUR’s Morning Edition to explain what changes the bill would bring about.

Article source:

Diverting the Foreclosure Flood

By Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc., operator of

Millions of Americans, myself included, applauded when the nation’s five largest lenders and attorneys-general from 49 states reached a landmark $25 billion settlement last March.  Among many things, this landmark agreement settled charges of foreclosure processing abuses dating back to 2008.

While the settlement was good news for distressed borrowers, the processing of foreclosures slowed dramatically during the 18 months of negotiations.  The slowdown created a shadow inventory of more than 1.5 million shuttered homes ─ nearly twice the number of foreclosures sold last year and representative of about 39% of the 3.6 million+ foreclosures completed nationally since the start of the housing crisis in September 2006.i

If this wave of foreclosures is released into local markets without concern for their impact on home values, many of our local real estate markets could be threatened.  Thus, the long-awaited recovery, so critical to restoring value and equity back to our real estate economy and American homeowners, could saddle several major markets with foreclosures for years.  A survey recently conducted found that more than half of all Americans (55.7%) are concerned that backlogged foreclosures will lower home values in their markets.ii

Some lenders are moving to ease their inventories in some of the states with the highest levels of backlogged foreclosures. Sales of bank-owned foreclosures were down nationwide from a year ago, but were up significantly in judicial states.  In the second quarter of 2012, foreclosure starts increased in 31 states year-over-year, of which 17 were judicial states, hinting that lenders are still working through the bottleneck of unsold REO inventory in many areas.iii  In fact, four of the five states in May 2012 with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were judicial states: Florida (11.9%), New Jersey (6.6%), Illinois (5.3%), and New York (5%).iv

Our nation’s lenders and real estate leaders must work together to preserve the price stability gained over the past 18 months by controlling the flow of foreclosures back into for-sale inventory.v

We know that sudden spikes in inventory shock prices and destabilize markets, while healthy markets can sustain relatively high saturation levels of inventory if introduced over time.  Should large volumes of foreclosures hit these markets over a relatively short period, home values will suffer and the emerging housing recovery will regress in many key markets.

We applaud lenders who are already trying out new ideas.  Bank of America’s pilot project to rent, rather than sell, some of their bank-owned foreclosures might put distressed properties to good use while waiting for a better market to sell.  FMHA’s bulk program involving the sale of 5,000 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac foreclosures to investors who would rent them out also is a step in the right direction.  Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and private lenders ramping up their short sale programs to help owners avoid foreclosure is another great solution to help manage foreclosure inventory levels.

This growing list of innovations is increasingly popular among millions of Americans.  However, we believe that more ambitious initiatives by lenders are needed if they are to make a significant impact on the foreclosure backlog.  Based on our foreclosure survey, 28.3% of Americans would support lease-purchase programs to help control the flow of these backlogged foreclosures back into the mainstream real estate markets to protect values in their neighborhoods.

Monitoring local market conditions so lenders can moderate the release of foreclosures is also important. In recent years, technology has made tremendous strides in enhancing our ability to watch local real estate markets in real time. With listings data from 850+ MLSs, tracks inventories, time on market, and list prices on thousands of markets with accuracy.  We’re prepared to work with leading lenders to help actively monitor local markets so they can regulate the release of foreclosures into the marketplace.

Since the onset of the Foreclosure Era in 2006, we’ve learned a great deal about foreclosures and how they can devastate home values by destabilizing markets with sudden waves of discount-priced properties.  By working together, lenders and real estate leaders can maintain the stability of our local markets by keeping another wave of foreclosures from sending America’s real estate markets under water.

Steve Berkowitz, CEO of operator Move, Inc., has been named one of Inman News’ 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate three years in a row (2009 to 2011). He sits on the Board of Directors for and Move, Inc., and served in senior executive posts at Microsoft, IAC Search Media /, and IDG Books Worldwide. A native New Yorker, Steve lives with his family in the Bay Area and works at Move, Inc.’s headquarters in the Silicon Valley.

Article source:

Independent Foreclosure Review Process Flawed

Federal banking regulators have called for Independent Foreclosure Reviews to determine if there were mistakes in the foreclosure process for loans in foreclosure during 2009 and 2010. Fourteen mortgage servicers are required to review those loans and compensate homeowners for their errors. However, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has announced that there are flaws in the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) process that could negatively impact the success of the program, which could affect more than four million foreclosed homeowners.

Among the flaws revealed by the GAO include problems with the servicers’ notifications to foreclosed homeowners about the IFR and their right to request that their files be reviewed. There are also concerns that the information sent to borrowers is difficult to understand and often fails to include what compensation, if any, borrowers may receive if wrongdoing is found.

Another flaw addresses the fact that most notifications are provided in English, which could place borrowers with limited or no English speaking or reading skills at a disadvantage. Also, because no data has been requested to determine which homeowners are responding to the IFR notification, the GAO cannot ascertain if all groups and races are being given fair access to the program. To date, the response to the program has been significantly below projections.

To address these flaws, federal banking regulators are calling for:

  • The elimination of distinctions between groups of borrowers in compensating them for mistakes made by their servicers. Currently, there are different levels of compensation for those who were wrongfully denied a loan modification and those who were foreclosed during a forbearance plan. According to the GAO, some of these distinctions and the compensation awarded are unfair.
  • An increase in the compensation awarded to borrowers for other errors by servicers.
  • The right for borrowers to appeal a decision.
  • Borrower and public access to the methods servicers are using to determine who is eligible for IFR, and what, if any, harm has been suffered by the borrower.
  • Public notification of the IFR progress and servicer errors found.
  • An extension of the deadline to apply for the program to the end of 2012.

The 14 lenders subject to the independent foreclosure review regulation, as listed in the Government Accountability Office report, are (in alphabetical order): Ally’s GMAC Mortgage, Aurora Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, EverBank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife, OneWest, PNC, Sovereign Bank, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. Under the terms set forth by banking regulators, these servicers were to conduct independent reviews to determine if errors were made during the foreclosure process during the years 2009 and 2010 and notify potential homeowners that they were eligible for a review.

More information on the program can be found at

Anna Cuevas, ex-bank executive turned homeowner advocate known as “America’s Loan Modification Guru,” has empowered and guided thousands of Americans in keeping their homes from foreclosure through loan modification self-advocacy. A popular blogger (, Cuevas has been called a “superhero of the loan modification industry” and has been nominated for CNN’s Heroes. She is the #1 bestselling author of SAVE YOUR HOME Without Losing Your Mind or Money.


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Foreclosure Filings Increase in 60% of Large US Cities

Foreclosure filings rose in almost
60 percent of large U.S. cities in the first half of 2012,
indicating many areas will have more distressed homes on the
market later this year, RealtyTrac Inc. reported.

More than 1 million homes in metropolitan areas with
populations of at least 200,000 received notices of default,
auction or repossession, up 1.5 percent from the last six months
of 2011, the Irvine, California-based data provider said today
in a statement. Among the 20 largest markets, Tampa, Florida;
Philadelphia; Chicago and New York City had the biggest
percentage increases in filings.

The gain in foreclosure actions followed a probe into
abusive lender practices that delayed bank seizures nationwide.
More repossessions will buoy deals “in many local markets where
a shortage of aggressively priced inventory has been holding up
sales,” RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer Brandon Moore said
in the statement.

A $25 billion bank settlement announced Feb. 9 eased loan
terms for some borrowers and set new guidelines for the five
largest U.S. mortgage providers. Recent laws passed in Nevada
and California, meanwhile, have made it harder for loan
servicers to resume property seizures, Daren Blomquist, a
RealtyTrac spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

The new regulations have been “a clock-stopper on lenders
and led to more artificial decreases,” he said. Throughout the
U.S., first-half filings, while up from the previous six months,
were down almost 11 percent from a year earlier, RealtyTrac

California Cities

Even with new California laws, seven metro areas in the
state ranked among the 10 highest for rates of foreclosure
fillings per household, according to the company. The top three
spots were held by Stockton, Modesto and Riverside, even as each
city posted lower totals than a year earlier. Phoenix and Las
Vegas also had decreasing tallies, while Atlanta filings rose
4.8 percent for the only gain among the top 10.

In Tampa, where filings gained 47 percent from the latter
half of last year, an 18-month backlog of bank-owned properties
is compounded by widespread negative equity, Blomquist said.
Almost half of residents in the area with a mortgage owe more
than their homes are worth, he said.

Chicago, where 46 percent of borrowers have negative
equity, has an aging inventory of “highly distressed inner-city
homes” and many homeowners with subprime loans, Blomquist said.
Investors scouring the U.S. for properties to fix up are
shunning those neighborhoods, he said.

Tight Supplies

Delayed seizures have contributed to tight supplies of
homes for sale. The number of U.S. single-family houses, condos,
townhomes and co-ops on the market last month dropped 19 percent
from a year earlier, according to the National Association of
Realtors’ website.

Across the nation, one in 126 households received a
foreclosure notice in the first half, RealtyTrac said. Of the
212 metro areas with at least 200,000 residents, 125 cities had
an increase in filings from the latter half of 2011.

Seattle had the biggest drop among the 20 largest metro
areas, with notices down 24 percent. Filings fell 21 percent in
San Francisco, 17 percent in Detroit, 13 percent in Los Angeles,
12 percent in Boston and 11 percent in San Diego, according to

The company sells default data from more than 2,200
counties representing 90 percent of the U.S. population.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Dan Levy in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Kara Wetzel at

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Illinois Real Estate Professionals Receive Training to Help Local Homeowners … – Virtual

The Certified Distressed Property Designation (CDPE) course, from the Charfen Institute®, provides tools, processes, and education to agents to help the growing population of distressed homeowners in Illinois find alternatives to escape unmanageable mortgage debt via short sales.

Austin, TX (PRWEB) July 26, 2012

According to RealtyTrac, a leading source for foreclosure information, Illinois has suffered from a 22 percent increase in foreclosure activity in the first half of 2012. These numbers reflect the growing need for short sale foreclosure education in Illinois. To help meet the demand, the Charfen Institute is bringing their industry-leading short sale course to Illinois this August:

  •     Chicago, IL – August 6 7

        Chicago Association of REALTORS®

By earning their Certified Distressed Property Expert® (CDPE) designation, local real estate professionals learn how to help homeowners facing financial hardships by understanding their individual circumstances and how to navigate foreclosure alternatives, including short sales. In a short sale transaction, the lien holder accepts the sale price of a property even if that amount is less than the borrower’s mortgage balance.

“Economic conditions continue to shift in communities nationwide, and it has become the responsibility of real estate professionals to provide real solutions to struggling homeowners,” Alex Charfen, CEO of Charfen Institute, said. “Illinois agents earning the CDPE designation and assisting distressed homeowners are helping solve the foreclosure crisis, one homeowner at a time.”

Since 2008, mortgage delinquency, unemployment and underemployment figures have been at or near record highs. Recent estimates show that more than one in five homeowners nationwide owe more on their home than it is currently worth, making apparent the need for more agents with specific training in short sales and foreclosure avoidance options. To find out more about the events in Illinois or an event nationwide visit

Homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments can get free assistance and foreclosure help from a CDPE-designated real estate agent in their area by visiting: (

About the Charfen Institute     

The Charfen Institute educates and trains real estate professionals and small business owners to find opportunities in chaos – either by providing solutions to the foreclosure crisis or empowering entrepreneurs with strategies to embrace their companies’ full potential. The company produces more than 300 educational events each year through various divisions, including: the Certified Distressed Property Expert® (CDPE) designation (, the Certified Investor Agent Specialist® (CIAS) designation (, LEAD Experience™, and its annual Breakthrough Conference ( The CDPE designation is the fastest growing independent designation in real estate industry history, with more than 40,000 agents trained since 2008. In 2011, the Charfen Institute ranked No. 21 on the Inc. 500 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies.

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