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NM foreclosure rate ticks up to 3.3 percent in July

New Mexicos foreclosure rate rose slightly to 3.3 percent in July, according to CoreLogics July foreclosure report.

New Mexico’s foreclosure rate rose slightly to 3.3 percent in July, according to CoreLogic’s July foreclosure report.

Steve Ginsberg
Reporter- New Mexico Business Weekly

 | Reporter RSS Feed

New Mexico’s foreclosure rate rose slightly to 3.3 percent in July, according to CoreLogic’s July foreclosure report.

The Land of Enchantment had 3.1 percent of its mortgages in foreclosure a year ago.

The state tracked the national average of 3.2 percent.

There were 58,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in July, down from 69,000 in July 2011 and 62,000 in June 2012.

Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been about 3.8 million completed foreclosures in the U.S. New Mexico has seen 2,025 completed foreclosures in the past 12 months.

About 1.3 million homes, or 3.2 percent of all homes with a mortgage, were in the national foreclosure inventory as of July 2012, compared to 1.5 million, or 3.5 percent, in July 2011.

“The decline in completed foreclosures is yet another positive signal that the housing market is continuing on a progressive path of stabilization and recovery,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Alternative resolutions are helping to reduce foreclosures and often result in a more positive transition for the borrower and lower losses for investors and lenders.”

“Completed foreclosures were down again in July, this time by 16 percent versus a year ago, as servicers increasingly rely on alternatives to the foreclosure process, such as short sales and modifications,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Completed foreclosures remain concentrated in five states, California, Florida, Michigan, Texas and Georgia, accounting for 48 percent of all completed foreclosures nationwide in July.”

Florida has the nation’s highest foreclosure rate at 11.2 percent, the report indicated. The report did not give city breakdowns for foreclosures within New Mexico.

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Banks labeled ‘slumlords’ over foreclosure neglect

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. Bank is the country’s fifth-largest commercial bank, with 3,000 branches in 25 states. It’s also “one of the largest slumlords in the City of Los Angeles,” according to the L.A. city attorney’s office.

In a complaint filed last month, the office accused U.S. Bank of failing to maintain more than 170 foreclosed properties, blighting neighborhoods, decreasing property values and increasing crime rates.

foreclosure fiasco

The allegations are similar to those made in a lawsuit filed by the city attorney’s office last year against Deutsche Bank (DB), as well as other complaints from activists around the country who say their communities have suffered as neglected foreclosures deteriorate in the aftermath of the housing bubble.

It’s difficult to quantify the issue nationally, but thousands of homes may be at risk of falling into disrepair.

Roughly 620,000 foreclosed properties in the United States are owned by lenders, according to RealtyTrac. The number of these properties, known as REOs, or “real estate owned,” surged after the housing bubble but has since begun to drop, down from over one million in January 2011.

Still, of those 620,000 houses, 24% had been waiting for a new buyer for two years or more, and 11% for three years or more.

Such homes can be no problem for neighbors provided they are maintained properly. But “the longer a property spends in REO status, the greater risk of falling into disrepair and dragging down the quality of the neighborhood and value of surrounding homes,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.

A tangled web: In the Los Angeles case, the city attorney’s office claims that U.S. Bank’s liability could be “in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

U.S. Bank, however, says the city’s lawsuit targets the wrong party.

Following a foreclosure, bank spokesman Tom Joyce said, the mortgage servicer — the institution that’s been collecting payments on a loan — is responsible for maintenance. U.S. Bank, he said, is not the servicer for the foreclosed homes in question, but the trustee.

“At the end of the day, it’s only the servicer that can foreclose on a home, and it’s only the servicer that’s responsible for the upkeep of those properties,” Joyce said.

Deutsche Bank spokesman Duncan King echoed U.S. Bank’s comments, saying that the Los Angeles city attorney “sued the wrong party,” and that other institutions worked as servicers for the properties at issue.

In some cases, banks hold their mortgage loans on their own books. Other times, the loans are securitized — pooled together with other loans. In those instances, a trustee distributes payments from servicers to the bondholders who own the mortgages.

There are also the government-controlled housing finance firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which take responsibility following foreclosures for the properties on which they have guaranteed mortgages.

Los Angeles Assistant City Attorney Tina Hess said trustees are required to take action when servicers of foreclosed properties fail to maintain them. The complexity of the modern housing market — where the owner of a mortgage loan, the servicer and the trustee might all be different — has exacerbated the problem, she added.

Related: New foreclosures jump 9%

Collateral damage: The issue extends beyond Los Angeles. Jennifer Wilcox, who lives in the middle-class Atlanta neighborhood of Ormewood Park, watched the house next door deteriorate for months after her neighbor left in 2009 without anyone taking action.

“We were seeing rodents and electrical wiring coming out the roof of the house,” Wilcox said. “We just kind of assumed that the bank would start maintaining it, and they never did.”

Wilcox eventually decided to take matters into her own hands, looking up the ownership details for the property on the county tax commissioner’s website. Although the home is owned by Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Wilcox says BofA attempted to wash its hands of the maintenance responsibilities, telling her that the servicing rights were held by Green Tree Servicing.

Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens told CNNMoney that there were in fact two mortgages on the property, the first serviced by BofA and the second by Green Tree. She called the home’s handling “a complex situation,” and said Bank of America was pushing Green Tree to handle future maintenance issues.

“It was an unfortunate set of circumstances that this fell off our radar, and for that we apologize to the neighbors,” Bauwens said. “This is not an example of how we want our houses maintained, and we will do what’s necessary to fix it between us and Green Tree.”

Green Tree did not respond to requests for comment.

Related: Whistleblowers win $46.5 million

The National Fair Housing Alliance, a Washington-based nonprofit, says the neglect of foreclosed properties is a problem in many parts of the country.

The group filed complaints earlier this year with the Department of Housing and Urban Development against U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), accusing them of failing to maintain foreclosed homes in Atlanta, Miami, Oakland, Calif., Washington, D.C., and other cities. Foreclosures in minority communities, the group said, were at greater risk of falling into disrepair than those in white neighborhoods.

Of 218 foreclosures owned by Wells Fargo that the NFHA inspected around the country, the group documented serious deficiencies in 67% of properties in minority communities, compared with 41% in white communities. The group reported similar findings among the 177 U.S. Bank properties it inspected.

Wells Fargo spokesman Tom Goyda said the bank “conducts all lending- and servicing-related activities in a fair and consistent manner without regard to race.”

“When Wells Fargo acquires ownership of a property through foreclosure, we immediately inspect it to identify and address any health and safety issues. Then we work to make any repairs or renovations that are necessary to prepare it for sale,” Goyda said.

U.S. Bank’s Joyce said his firm was the trustee for most of the homes identified in the NFHA complaint, and therefore not responsible for them.

“The others, we are looking through those, in conversation with NFHA, to make sure that there are no issues with properties that we presently own,” Joyce added.

For neighbors, part of the challenge in getting such properties addressed can be just figuring out who’s responsible. Wilcox said that after contacting local government officials and dealing extensively with Green Tree and Bank of America, she’s not sure what else she can do.

“I’m just hopeful that whoever owns the property hurries up and takes responsibility for it, because it’s just a nightmare to live next door to,” she said.

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5268 in Illinois get aid from foreclosure settlement

Funds from the $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement are making their way to homeowners in Illinois and elsewhere.

As of June 30, 5,268 Illinois homeowners have received more than $357 million in assistance as a result of the settlement reached in February to correct shoddy mortgage foreclosure practices with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers, according to a progress report released Wednesday by the independent monitor of the settlement struck between the servicers and the federal government and 49 states.

Almost half of those Illinois borrowers, 2,555, participated in a short sale of their home or completed a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure with their servicer. Others received loan modifications, principal reductions and loan refinancings.

Nationally, the five servicers — Bank of America, CitiMortgage. Ally Financial, JPMorgan Chase and Well Fargo — reported that they granted $10.56 billion of relief to 137,846 borrowers between March 1 and June 30. Almost $8.7 billion of that national relief involved about 75,000 borrowers either completing a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure with their servicer, according to the report.

According to the state, Illinois ranks fourth in terms of the total number of borrowers who have received assistance. 

“I am cautiously encouraged by the initial progress reported by the independent monitor,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who helped negotiate the settlement. “We’re starting to see real results for Illinois families.

Joseph Smith, Jr., the independent monitor of the settlement, noted that the information has been self-reported by the companies and has not been audited or confirmed by his staff at the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight.

Mortgage servicers also improved their servicing practices. They have until Oct. 2 to comply with more than 300 standards.

Illinois also has begun disbursing its $106 million share of the settlement. On Tuesday, Madigan announced a $4.7 million grant to the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago to help it provide legal services to homeowners in Chicago and suburban Cook County. Last week, another $4.5 million was awarded to the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation to help homeowners in central and southern Illinois. | Twitter @mepodmolik

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Stop a Sheriff Sale or Stop Trustee Sale and Foreclosure Eviction – 7 How To …

The latest Help-To-Stop-Foreclosure.Net e-book can help homeowners with vital pockets of information that still work and new tactics or traps to avoid like the lenders “You Quality,” “Now you see it, now you don’t,” trick.

The old ways are not working too well any longer, and so the question is would homeowners like to know some practical alternative means that can help to stop a trustee sale or stop a sheriff sale or foreclosure eviction? If so the Help-To-Stop-Foreclosure.Net Special Report “Stop Foreclosure Sale or Eviction –  7 Secrets in Plain Sight Tips” is now made available as a download at no cost to homeowners.
The normal way’s people pursue assistance such as loan modifications, forbearance agreements, the REST Report, a short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure and government programs like HAMP, and the like don’t always work or even don’t usually work at this point.
However, behind the scenes and well promoted fanfare that goes along with these methods, there are various simple yet little-known traps to avoid or important pools of information to be aware of that can help homeowners with stopping a foreclosure sale or eviction.
Also “Yes,” there can be a dark side to the use of these programs and laws too.
Remember when a government program related trial mortgage modification offer came to William and Esperanza Casco, the owners of a grocery store making all their payments on time. Then the couple wound up in foreclosure because of following the bank’s advice to make reduced payments.
Well, recently Cathy, a New York homeowner (wishing to remain anonymous at this time) says that she has had this type of foreclosure inducement happen also.
Cathy was struggling with high mortgage payments, but making all her payments on time. Then after talking with lender employees Cathy was offered to reduce the payments, with the lender’s staff saying that Cathy could make the lower payments because she qualified for the government’s HAMP program.
Cathy said during the eleven month process of satisfying the lender’s paperwork requirements that she went through the lender repeatedly told Cathy she qualified for the HAMP program and could pay $1400.00 less than the normal $3400.00 monthly amount she paid out.
Then, Cathy goes on to tell that after eleven months of paying $1400.00 dollars less than the usual sum the bank officers, all of a sudden, said it was found that she does not qualify for the HAMP program after all.
Then the lender called for eleven months of $1400.00 back payments all due and payable immediately, plus late fees and penalties. All of this added up to about $25000.00 dollars in charges.
This of course plunged Cathy into the risk of foreclosure, a situation which this homeowner is fighting even now.
This is all because the lender told Cathy to make the reduced payments, then turned around and demanded back payments of the decreased amounts.
For someone struggling with payments and wants to prevent foreclosure, they shouldn’t fall for this one, the old “now you qualify, and now you don’t quality,” “now you see it, now you don’t,” trick.
For more important information, bankers hope homeowners never find out, but owners should know because it can help them stop a sheriff sale or stop a trustee sale or foreclosure eviction, go to Help-To-Stop-Foreclosure.Net and download the e-book “Stop Foreclosure Sale or Eviction –  7 Secrets in Plain Sight Tips – Special Report 2” today.

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Supervisors want to stop sale of distressed properties

Riverside –

Riverside County supervisors today expressed support for congressional legislation intended to halt the bundled sale of hundreds of distressed properties in the Inland Empire to investors in a federally sanctioned move to convert foreclosed homes into rental houses.

“These homes would be sold to investors, who quite probably would be
Offshore, creating again the same issue that helped create the mortgage mess of 2007,” Board of Supervisors Chairman John Tavaglione said.  “Homes would be sold in a bundle situation to absentee owners. They won’t be in our community.”

The board voted 4-0 in support of HR 5823, introduced by Rep. Gary
Miller, R-Diamond Bar, who is seeking to stop all bulk sales of repossessed
properties in Southern California by the Federal National Mortgage Association — better known as Fannie Mae — under the direction of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Fannie Mae has been under federal conservatorship since the 2008
financial meltdown.

HR 5823, under review in the House Financial Services Committee, is also
supported by the California Association of Realtors and the Inland Valley
Association of Realtors.

CAR has criticized the secretive nature of the purchase agreements and
filed Freedom of Information Act requests asking for documents that would
disclose how buyers were chosen and other details.

According to Tavaglione’s office, under the FHFA proposal, institutional
investors would take possession of the foreclosed homes and turn them into
rentals for three to five years.

“This is taking away opportunities for local investors … in our
communities to buy homes and resell them to individuals interested in
homeownership,” the chairman said.

According to CAR, the sale of some 500 Fannie Mae-owned properties in
Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties is expected to close at the end of the current quarter. The government created a limited liability
corporation called SFR 2012-1 US West LLC to receive the foreclosed properties from Fannie Mae.

“We are greatly concerned that the FHFA used extremely outdated market
data, perhaps as old as 2011, to determine property valuations,” said CAR
President LeFrancis Arnold.

“Because the transactions are only now in the process of closing, these
dated valuations will drag down the Inland Empire’s home prices, which have
shown strong signs of stabilization,” Arnold said.”Additionally, because of
this price discrepancy and the very nature of bulk sales, we believe Fannie Mae is assured to not receive fair market value for the properties, thereby
saddling taxpayers with their loss.”

The board directed the Executive Office to help drum up support for HR
5823 using the county’s federal and state lobbyists. Tavaglione hoped the
Coachella Valley Association of Governments, all local chambers of commerce and each of the 28 cities within the county would publicly back the legislation.

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Homeowner Battles Foreclosure

A Goleta homeowner is packing up everything she owns, and getting ready to move out.
A recent judge’s ruling means her long foreclosure fight may be over soon. Marina Read has been one of the loudest voices in the local effort to stop, what she calls, “unjust” foreclosures by banks.
Now, it appears, time has run out for her..
Read says she has less than 24 hours to pack up and move out.

Two years ago, she learned she was among the many facing foreclosure.

“It was completely devastating.”

During the process, the single mother says, something just didn’t feel right.

“When it came to pushing my family out, and not feeling right in my gut, that this was being done legitimately, that’s when I started pushing back. That’s when I filed my own lawsuit.”

She’s spent the last couple years waging a legal war against the bank. But a judge recently denied her claim that the bank unlawfully foreclosed on her home, and gave her until Wednesday morning at 6 o’clock to vacate.

Read still has several cases in appeals court, and she says the battle is not over yet.

“It’s a tug of war of possession, is what we’re going through here.”

KEYT has learned a stay was issued on the judges order, and for now, it seems, Read will be able to remain in her home.
She expects to learn the outcome of her appeal in the next three months.
We made calls to the attorneys who represents the bank in this case, but we have not yet received a response.

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Groups that help consumers facing foreclosure get additional funding from …

By Rita R. Robison

Organizations providing mortgage relief received a shot in the arm today with the announcement of additional funding for their programs.

Thirteen Washington non-profit groups will split $43.8 million the state is receiving to fund foreclosure relief as part of a $25 billion national settlement, which was announced in February, with the country’s five largest mortgage servicers.

A selection committee reviewed proposals for funding in six key areas and looked at how to distribute the funds to groups throughout the state, the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

It granted the largest amount of money – about $18 million – to organizations that provide direct mortgage relief to consumers.

The Legal Foundation of Washington’s Home Justice project will receive about $13 million to provide legal representation to more than 30,000 low- and moderate-income consumers who are expected to face foreclosure in the coming years or who are among more than 135,000 households whose homes were foreclosed on in the last four years.

The committee also provided about $4.8 million for anti-blight projects in Tacoma, Seattle, and parts of King County. It allocated another $4.1 million for foreclosure counseling projects.

In addition, it provided more than $2 million to Resolution Washington to support the Washington Foreclosure Mediation Program and to provide training for volunteer foreclosure mediators. Another $1.26 million will go to two organizations for outreach to raise awareness about available resources and to help them restore homes and communities.

The National Mortgage Settlement is groundbreaking, said Lili Sotelo, senior attorney for the Northwest Justice Project’s Foreclosure Prevention Unit and a member of the committee. Allocating funds to foreclosure relief programs will ensure additional help for more consumers affected by the foreclosure crisis, Sotelo said.

For more information about the grants: List of all grant recipients, including quotes, brief project descriptions, and contact information.

The Attorney General’s Office is offering step-by-step instructions, including a how-to video, for borrowers facing potential foreclosure. The agency encourages all borrowers needing assistance to call the Washington Homeownership Information Hotline at 877-894-4663 to be connected with an advisor who can help.

For additional information, see:

For more information for boomer consumers, see my blog The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide.

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Foreclosures Decline Nationwide in July


CoreLogic has released its National Foreclosure Report for July which provides monthly data on completed U.S. foreclosures and the overall foreclosure inventory. According to the report, there were 58,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in July 2012 down from 69,000 in July 2011 and 62,000 in June 2012. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been approximately 3.8 million completed foreclosures across the country. Completed foreclosures are an indication of the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Approximately 1.3 million homes, or 3.2 percent of all homes with a mortgage, were in the national foreclosure inventory as of July 2012 compared to 1.5 million, or 3.5 percent, in July 2011. Month-over-month, the national foreclosure inventory was unchanged from June 2012 to July 2012. The foreclosure inventory is the share of all mortgaged homes in any stage of the foreclosure process.

“The decline in completed foreclosures is yet another positive signal that the housing market is continuing on a progressive path of stabilization and recovery,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive officer of CoreLogic. “Alternative resolutions are helping to reduce foreclosures and often result in a more positive transition for the borrower and lower losses for investors and lenders.”

Highlights of the July 2012 National Foreclosure Report include:

►The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in July 2012 were: California (118,000), Florida (92,000), Michigan (61,000), Texas (57,000) and Georgia (54,000). These five states account for 48.1 percent of all completed foreclosures nationally.

►The five states with the lowest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in July 2012 were: South Dakota (32), District of Columbia (120), Hawaii (445), North Dakota (575), and Maine (608).

►The five states with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were: Florida (11.2 percent), New Jersey (5.7 percent), New York (5.2 percent), Illinois (4.9 percent) and Nevada (4.7 percent).

►The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were: Wyoming (0.5 percent), Alaska (0.8 percent), North Dakota (0.8 percent), Nebraska (0.9 percent) and South Dakota (1.1 percent).

“Completed foreclosures were down again in July, this time by 16 percent versus a year ago, as servicers increasingly rely on alternatives to the foreclosure process, such as short sales and modifications,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Completed foreclosures remain concentrated in five states, California, Florida, Michigan, Texas and Georgia, accounting for 48 percent of all completed foreclosures nationwide in July.”

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Foreclosures Leave Holes In Voter Outreach

The nation’s foreclosure crisis rarely is mentioned by the presidential candidates, but it looms large as their campaigns grapple with finding evicted voters in swing states.

Organizers are discovering scores of vacated homes in key battlegrounds that contributed strong turnouts in the 2008 election. In the past four years, more than 3.7 million homes have been lost to foreclosure, according to market research firm CoreLogic.

And canvassers have been left with voter databases — an indispensable tool for getting out the vote — riddled with outdated addresses and phone numbers.

Since the housing crisis went full tilt in 2008, the same states continue to have the worst foreclosure markets, such as California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.

A home has a foreclosure auction sign displayed in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, in September 2010.
Enlarge Amy Sancetta/AP

A home has a foreclosure auction sign displayed in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, in September 2010.

A home has a foreclosure auction sign displayed in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, in September 2010.

Amy Sancetta/AP

A home has a foreclosure auction sign displayed in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, in September 2010.

Today, three of the eight states with the highest foreclosure rates are presidential battlegrounds: Florida, Ohio and Nevada. Candidate Barack Obama won these states in 2008, but voter frustrations about his economic policies have since led each state to elect Republican governors.

Both the Obama and Romney campaigns say they are working to locate displaced voters, but declined to discuss their methods.

Given months of polling showing that likely Republican voters are more engaged in the election, Democratic officials and strategists in both parties say the Obama campaign has the greater challenge of mobilizing its base.

African-Americans and Latinos, two groups whose turnout is critical to Obama’s chances, have lost homes to foreclosure at disproportionately higher rates, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

Here’s a sampling of conditions in those three pivotal swing states:

Florida: Evictions Limit Door-Knocking In I-4 Corridor

Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, is the biggest prize. It also has had the most foreclosures behind California over the past four years. Currently, 1 in every 352 homes is in foreclosure proceedings, nearly double the national rate, according to market research firm RealtyTrac.

Central Florida, along the Interstate 4 corridor, is ground zero for troubled mortgages, as well as swing voters.

The process takes a little longer … because a lot of people who used to be in those residences aren’t there any more.”

For instance, the Tampa area recorded the nation’s highest increase, at 47 percent, in foreclosure activity in the first half of the year. Tampa and surrounding Hillsborough County voted for Obama in 2008, but elected a Republican governor and senator in 2010.

Republicans believe the shift demonstrates that their strategy of tying the slow recovery to Obama’s policies is working.

“We have an aggressive and robust ground game to identify and turn out voters in the I-4 corridor and beyond, many of whom are these homeowners directly impacted by President Obama’s failed leadership,” says Jill Bader, a spokeswoman for the Florida Republican Party.

In Orange County, the foreclosure rate has reached 36 percent, particularly in some Orlando neighborhoods with large Latino populations that voted for Obama.

A southeast Orlando precinct that includes the Lake Frederica and Ventura Country Club communities has had 545 foreclosures completed in the past year, and another 925 homes are in process, RealtyTrac says. About 46 percent of the precinct’s roughly 9,700 registered voters are Latino.

Evictions in the Orlando area have prompted Mi Familia Vota, which registers voters in states with large Latino populations, to delay the start of door-to-door canvassing and hold registration drives at high-traffic sites such as gas stations and supermarkets.

“The process takes a little longer … because a lot of people who used to be in those residences aren’t there anymore,” says Jose Balasquide, the Florida director for Mi Familia Vota. “So we have to invest more time in cleaning the voter lists, and we’re probably going to find a lot of discrepancies.”

Ohio: Cleveland May Not Be Obama’s Juggernaut Again

Ohio, one of the most reliable bellwethers, has voted for the winning candidate in every presidential election since 1964. The Romney campaign is targeting suburbs and smaller towns that lean toward Republican candidates, while the Obama campaign is trying to mobilize large metropolitan areas that delivered him the state in 2008.

More NPR Stories

A bank owned sign in front of a home in Miami last October.

Mike Strugatz is an investor who's bought and renovated about two dozen distressed homes in the Riverside and Lake Elsinore area. He says with less inventory on the market recently, it's getting harder to find properties, and banks are demanding higher prices even for destroyed homes.

Sara Millan (left) thanks Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America CEO Bruce Marks after NACA was able to reduce her family's mortgage during an event in Los Angeles in September 2010.

Obama supporters are finding the task more difficult this year in Ohio’s two largest cities, Columbus and Cleveland, where foreclosures are highest. In the first half of the year, more than 10,717 properties, or 1 in every 89 homes, were in foreclosure in Cleveland.

Most of the properties are on the city’s heavily Democratic east side, where thousands of homes bear an “X,” marked for demolition.

“You see it in every precinct,” says Samara Knight, vice president of the Service Employees International Union in Cleveland, who is leading a voter canvassing effort. The SEIU has endorsed Obama.

Since 2008, more than 99,000 of Cleveland’s registered voters have dropped off the rolls, a loss of 26 percent.

“If they have moved and haven’t voted since 2008, then it’s really impossible to find them. Then I have lost that person,” Knight says.

Nevada: ‘Ghost Towns’ Set Back Voter Registration

Nevada had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate for much of the past five years until it dropped to sixth in July, RealtyTrac says. Nevada also had 12 percent unemployment in July, the highest of any state.

The conditions have prompted residents to leave the state, complicating voter outreach. A scrubbing of the state voter list in April removed some 64,000 registered Democrats who have departed Nevada. By comparison, Democratic voters outnumbered Republicans by nearly 100,000 when Obama won Nevada in 2008.

During a nonpartisan registration drive in Las Vegas last month, one SEIU official described visiting neighborhoods where “whole blocks are almost ghost towns.”

Since April, Democratic voter registrations have increased by a 2-to-1 margin over Republican registrations, which also have been outpaced by nonpartisans, who choose no party affiliation.

“Nevada has always been a highly transient state, so re-registration is very important,” says Rebecca Lambe, a senior adviser for the Obama campaign in Nevada.

Last year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney angered some Nevadans when he said he opposed foreclosure relief for homeowners and preferred the market to “hit the bottom” so that investors could lead the recovery. A new Obama campaign radio ad airing in Nevada uses those remarks to attack Romney.

Romney last week told a Reno television station: “My plan for housing gets this market to come back. The president’s plan for housing, now 3 1/2 years running, has not done the job.” When asked, Romney didn’t offer specifics about his plan.

Obama made a campaign speech in Reno last week, but didn’t address housing. He has visited Nevada in the past to promote his housing policies.

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Woman sues to stop wrongful foreclosure

A Jefferson County resident has filed suit against the man who she claims is wrongfully attempting to foreclose on her property.

Shirley Johnson claims attorney and Ward II Beaumont City Councilman Michael Gertz has scheduled a foreclosure against her property at 840 Palermo St. in Beaumont. However, Johnson has appealed his motion, according to the complaint filed Aug. 7 in Jefferson County District Court.

“In lieu of the events and circumstances by Plaintiff, between May through August, 2012, Plaintiff asserts that any foreclosure actions by Defendant is premature and should be abated,” the suit states.

If her home is foreclosed on, Johnson claims she will suffer irreparable injury.

“Specifically, Plaintiff will be harmed in that this is their homestead and they will lose all of the money previously invested in the property without having a fair opportunity to protect the investment of which Plaintiff have not adequate remedy at law,” the complaint says.

In her complaint, Johnson is asking the court to invalidate the foreclosure sale. She is also asking the court to permanently prohibit Gertz from foreclosing on her property and other relief the court deems just.

Gaylyn Leon Cooper of Beaumont will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Case No. B192-784

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