Entries in Foreclosures (48)


Occupiers Protesting Foreclosures, Cold Temps, with New Campaign

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- A subset of Occupy Wall Street protesters across the country are bringing their fight indoors with plans to stay in foreclosed homes for months -- conveniently just in time for winter.

The group launched a national campaign on Tuesday called Occupy Our Homes -- in which they'll literally be living in the homes of foreclosed homeowners.

It's a move apparently motivated as much by Mother Nature than it was by any philisophical motivations about the economy. 

Nick Espinosa, one of the organizers of Occupy Minneapolis, which officially launched on Oct. 7, said Minnesota's cold makes it difficult for people to spend the winter outdoors.

"It makes sense to be indoors but really this is a larger issue," he said. "It's an opportunity for a way to bring what is happening on Wall Street back to Main Street and to communities most affected by this crisis."

Foreclosures are still plaguing communities across the country, as foreclosure activity recently hit a seven-month high, RealtryTrac reported last month. There were foreclosure filings on 230,678 properties across the country in October, the real estate site said, an increase of 7 percent from the previous month, though down 31 percent from a year ago.

This week, the first major lawsuit over "robo-signing" foreclosure processing was filed in Massachusetts against Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, Ally Financial and Wells Fargo, as well as the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. (MERS Corp.). The suit alleges the companies used fraudulent documentation in processing foreclosures.

Steve Fletcher, executive director of the nonprofit group Minnesota's Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, has joined with Occupy Minneapolis protesters to live on the properties of two foreclosed homeowners.

About 50 people began occupying the home of Bobby Hull, 57, this week.  Fletcher said he and other protesters plan to stay in the four-bedroom home of Hull, who is scheduled to be evicted from his home on Feb. 17.

Neighborhoods Organizing for Change along with Occupy Minneapolis protesters have also stayed at the home of Monique White in North Minneapolis, for one month.  Espinosa said the protesters in White's home have scaled back since the original 40 or 50 people a night.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Collegians Ditching Dorms for McMansions

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MERCED, Calif.) -- At the University of California, Merced, one right of passage -- college students crammed into shoebox-sized dorm rooms -- is no longer.

For thousands of collegians, the life of the starving student has been traded in for the lap of luxury, many of them now living in sprawling new homes that were abandoned by foreclosures in one of the hardest-hit cities in the U.S.

These so-called "McMansions" are complete with spiral staircases, sparkling chandeliers and even Jacuzzis.

Third-year student Stephen Chang and five other engineering buddies live in a 3,300-square-foot house that has five bedrooms, four full bathrooms, a gas fireplace and a two-car garage. In the kitchen, there are granite countertops, a walk-in pantry and a stainless-steel sink and dishwasher. The dining room now serves as the Ping-Pong room and a place to store bikes. Chang even has his own bathroom.

They pay about $300 a piece a month -- about half as much as they paid to live in the school's dorms.

So many students have moved to these giant suburban homes that the university has shuttle buses to transport them to and from classes. Chang and Laird said that several other college students lived on their street and that the neighborhood was mostly made up of students.

"I guess it's kind of sad to see all these students living in such nice houses, when there could be families living there," Chang said, "[but] we are bringing income to this area, so better us rent these houses than have them just sit here and nobody rents them at all."

It's a win for the young university, which only has enough campus housing for about a third of its nearly 5,200 students.

"It's not a win for the people who lost their homes but it's a win for our students and for the campus that our undergraduate and graduate students have some really lovely places to live in," said Jane Lawrence, the university's vice chancellor for student affairs.

Some students' parents are swooping in and buying the homes as investment properties and the banks that are sitting on these vacant sites are benefitting. Even the neighbors don't seem to mind.

"They get in there and they're paying the rent and they're taking care of business," Michael Abarca said. "They are pretty quiet on the block."

Ellie Wooten, a real estate broker and the former mayor of Merced, said the university had greatly helped a community crippled by the foreclosure crisis.

"When you have students in [the homes], you don't have vandalism and people breaking in and that sort of thing," Wooten said. "There is a background check on their parents so the parents know they are responsible for their son or daughter living in this house. ... Businesses at large are doing a lot better because of the students."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Foreclosure Filings Rise by 7% in October

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) -- The number of U.S. households that received a foreclosure notice rose again in October, hitting a seven month high, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.

The foreclosure tracking firm said Thursday that 230,678 properties were hit with foreclosure filings last month, up seven percent from September.  The number of intial default notices also went up in October, jumping up 10 percent from the previous month.

The spike is largely due to the hold up in foreclosure proceedings that emerged last year, stemming from faulty paperwork and poor documentation.

"We've been in this kind of artificial lull in foreclosure activity over the last year honestly, but it's not because the market is improving, it's because the lenders haven't been able to process foreclosures as quickly," said RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist.  "We saw a lot of indications in the report that lenders are beginning to ramp up on foreclosure proceedings after being in a kind of extended period of delay."

Despite last month's increase, foreclosure activity is still down 31 percent from the same time period in 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Foreclosure Filings Rise Slightly in Third Quarter; Default Notices Up 14%

ABC News(IRVINE, Calif.) -- The number of American households receiving a foreclosure notice inched up slightly in this year's third quarter, following three straight months of decreases.

RealtyTrac reported Thursday that 610,337 U.S. properties were hit with a foreclosure filing during the summer quarter, marking a 1 percent increase from the previous quarter.  The latest figure is down 34 percent from the same time period in 2010.

RealtyTrac CEO James Saccacio said the third quarter jump was fueled by a 14 percent increase in new default notices.

"We're going to start to see more foreclosures coming through the pipeline now that the paperwork and processing from the robo signing is getting cleared up," he said.

Saccacio is referring to the hold up in foreclosure proceedings that emerged last year, stemming from faulty paperwork and poor documentation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Foreclosure Filings Jump 7% in August, Default Notices Soar 33%

ABC News(IRVINE, Calif.) -- In what comes as more unwelcome news for the U.S. housing market, there appears to be a resurgence in the number of foreclosure filings.

According to the foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac, 228,098 households were hit with a foreclosure notice last month.  While the figure was down 33 percent from August of 2010, it did mark a 7 percent increase from July.

But what may be more alarming is the dramatic increase in the number of homeowners hit with an initial warning saying they're in default.

"The 33 percent increase [from July] in default notices was the biggest single monthly increase we've seen since August of 2007, 48 months ago," says Rick Sharga with RealtyTrac.

That increase could be a possible indication that banks are beginning to move forward with the long-delayed foreclosure clamp down after holding up foreclosure proceedings for months over faulty paperwork and poor documentation.

"There might be a break in the log jam that has been artificially slowing down foreclosure activity," says Sharga.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Housing Hunting? Five Tips to Cash In Smart in a Buyer’s Market

Steven Puetzer /Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Labor Day holiday weekend is generally a popular time to go house hunting, and in this buyer’s market, this weekend will be no different.  In fact, it promises to be a good time to get big bargains.

But you should do your homework to avoid common -- and costly -- mistakes.

Gerri Willis, host of The Willis Report on the Fox Business Network, appeared on ABC's Good Morning America on Friday to answer five common questions about bargain house hunting.

1. How Can I Get a Good Deal?

Consider foreclosed homes and short sales, Willis said.  Foreclosed homes cost 39 percent less than homes that are not in foreclosure, and homes that are being offered on short sale cost 20 percent less, she added.

2. Even if I pay a low price, how can I tell whether I’m buying in an area where my property values will go up?

People will be drawn to place where prices have gone down -- Las Vegas and Detroit, for example, Willis said.  But she also said that you don’t have to buy in those places.  Her advice?  Investigate the local economy.  That means you should check unemployment rates to see whether they’ve gone up or down.  And make sure local businesses comprise a diverse mix of industries.

3. People often underestimate how much money they’re going to have to put in to a fixer-upper.  How do I avoid that mistake?

This is the biggest mistake that people make when they buy a fixer-upper, Willis said.  Those who are purchasing a property as an investment must see it firsthand, and they should walk through the property with a contractor who can take a look at the work that needs to be done and provide you with an accurate estimate of just how much the renovations will cost, she added.

4. Can I roll the cost of renovations into my overall loans?

When banks are selling foreclosed homes cheaply, buyers who need financing are often caught in a bind because lenders often will not lend money until repairs are completed, she said.  But the Federal Housing Administration runs the 203K rehab loan program -- which only requires a 3.5 percent down payment, she added.  This program allows buyers to add renovations costs into the mortgage.

5. I don’t expect to see a bidding war in this market, but could it happen?

Smart people are going to put a really good price on their home if they want it to sell quickly, and that will attract many buyers.  If it’s a nice home, people will start to outbid each other, driving up the price.  Do not fall for this, Willis said.  There are too many well-priced homes on the market for you to ever get into a bidding war, she said, adding that you shouldn’t tell yourself one particular house is your “dream house,” because there will always be others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bank of America Apologizes for Foreclosing on Couple Who Paid Early

Davis Turner/Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- Bank of America said it had erred by foreclosing on an elderly Florida couple, James and Sharon Bullington, who paid their mortgage a week early.

"We apologize to the Bullingtons," said the bank in an email to ABC News late Monday, "and we hope to have a response to them shortly." The bank in February had initiated foreclosure proceedings against the couple.

The news comes none too soon for Sharon Bullington, 70, who has lived in fear that she and her bedridden, 78-year-old, terminally ill husband, would lose their home. "It's like death to me," she said of her experience to a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times. "It's almost more than I can bear." Referring to Bank of America, she said, "I just don't understand why they're doing this. It looks like they're out to get us."

Bank of America has come under fire since the mortgage meltdown began three years ago for fouling up paperwork and other mistakes in its foreclosures. Its purchase of Countrywide saddled the bank with thousands of delinquent loans.

The Bullingtons moved to Florida 15 years ago from Flint, Mich., where James had worked for General Motors before retiring. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the couple owes about $177,000 on their 1,591-square-foot New Port Richey home, which is valued at $133,464.

Financial pressures brought by James' medical bills forced the couple to seek mortgage relief under the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Their application was approved, and Bank of America reduced their payment from $1,400 to $916 a month.

Sharon made her first payment under the new arrangement -- due Jan. 1, 2011 -- on Dec. 23. Court records show it was accepted. She then made her February payment, but it was not accepted. The bank explained later that the check had not been signed, and, as a result, had been returned.

By not making January's payment on Jan. 1, the Bullingtons had failed to comply with HAMP's terms. Facing denial of their eligibility for reduced payments, Mrs. Bullington appealed to the bank for a review of her case. In response, she got a letter dated July 1, 2011, from Customer Advocate Ana Olivera in the office of the bank's CEO and president.

Olivera informed the Bullingtons that review had been declined "because the first Making Home Affordable Trial payment was due on January 1, 2011, and the payment was made on December 23, 2011 (sic)." Explained Olivera, "If you are not able to make each payment in the month in which [it] is due, you will not be eligible for a modification."

The Bullingtons declined to be interviewed by ABC News for this story.

Bank of America, in its statement late Monday, explained its change of heart as follows: "There was an error made in posting the first Trail payment. We have corrected the posting and are in the process of moving it forward through the Making Home Affordable process."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mortgage Delinquencies Rise, Foreclosure Rate Down

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- More Americans are in danger of losing their homes, according to a new report.

It's not just sub-prime loans and risky borrowers. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association report, delinquencies are up in all loan types, with more people reported at least one month behind in their payments.

The association's chief economist says the increase represents more people out of work and having trouble paying their bills.

The report, however, says the rate of actual foreclosures is down, as courts demand more and better paperwork and the re-checking of documents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Investors Turn Foreclosed Homes into Affordable Rentals

ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Turning foreclosures into rentals: Could this be a solution to the foreclosure crisis in America?

On Wednesday, the Obama administration announced it is soliciting ideas for ways to turn a half million foreclosed homes into affordable rental properties.

The Home Affordable Modification Program hopes it can be the ticket to boosting falling home prices and transforming thousands of government-owned foreclosures into homes with families.

Officials say they'll be listening for ideas until Sept 15.

Dayne Francis, an investor in Atlanta, said he has plenty to share. He and his family have bought eight foreclosed homes already this year for pennies on the dollar and transformed them into rentals. In June, they bought their latest foreclosure for $22,000. After $15,000 in upgrades, they expect to have the home rented to a family next week.

His sister-in-law, Candis Francis, the realtor of the family, said the family would buy up even more foreclosures, but getting loans is tough, and they usually pay cash. With better access to credit, she said, more investors would put "more skin in the game."

"If the government would get involved and offer more affordable finance options for investors, it will make things a lot easier," she said.

Dayne Francis, who runs the money end of the business, told us these new ideas "would probably take 50 to 75 percent of the properties off the market within a year or two, tops."

In addition to easier financing, experts say, the government could help by tweaking a few rules -- giving tax breaks to investors who can't collect enough in rent to pay the mortgage on their newly purchased foreclosed home.

There's talk of encouraging more investors to buy the homes of distressed families, allowing the family to remain in the home and charging them an affordable rent.

It worked for JR Klimach and his partner, John McKay.

They were struggling to pay an $1,100 mortgage. Then, an investor stepped in, paid cash for their home, and charged them $850 a month in rent.

Their investor, Rob Davidson, said that the foreclosure-to-rental solution is more than a smart economic decision.

"We've helped a lot of families," Davidson said. "You can't put a dollar value on what it does inside for you."

Someday, he'll make his money when he sells the home, he said, and he hopes to sell it back to Klimach and McKay.

However, critics worry the seemingly good ideas could lead to more absentee landlords who buy distressed homes and leave them in despair.

Nevertheless, some experts, including Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, said the solution could have a huge immediate impact on blighted neighborhoods.

"I wouldn't bet that this program is going to lead to big changes right away in national housing prices," said Bernstein. "But I do think that it will help in neighborhoods, particularly those with high concentration of foreclosed homes. If you could move some of those foreclosed properties off the residential market and into the rental market, that should slow the decline in housing prices in those areas."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Regulators Shut Down Three US Banks

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. regulators shut down three national banks on Friday.

In Florida, Southshore Community Bank and LandMark Bank of Florida were purchased by the American Momentum Bank, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

In Colorado, Bank of Choice was closed by the Colorado Division of Banking. The Greeley, Colo., based bank will be taken over by Bank Midwest.

The total number of bank foreclosures in 2011 so far number 58.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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