Foreclosure help coming right to Tacomans' front doors

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Sunday, 20 December 2015
Written by Super User

Homeowners facing foreclosure can find a lot of assistance, but pride and fear can stand in the way of asking for help. State figures show just one homeowner in 10 takes advantage of the myriad programs available.

In Tacoma, help is now coming door to door.

Home Ownership and Mediation, or HOME, began in late November as a partnership between the city of Tacoma and the Seattle University School of Law. It's an $11,200 program funded by grants from the Legal Foundation of Washington, the state Department of Financial Institutions and the Pierce County Foreclosure Prevention Roundtable.

Some 17 people have been hired to canvass neighborhoods across the city where one or more homes is in some stage of foreclosure. For a few hours each day, canvassers knock on doors and deliver information on how homeowners, or someone they know, can get help to prevent foreclosure.



Congress will provide even more money to prevent foreclosure and blight, as ...

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Saturday, 19 December 2015
Written by Super User
A backhoe starts the demolition of a foreclosed house on East 130th Street in Cleveland. More money for blight- and foreclosure prevention will likely come to the area as a result of a spending bill Congress is working to pass. (Dave Andersen/cleveland.com)

Evictions loom as suburbs buy tax-foreclosed homes

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Monday, 16 November 2015
Written by Super User

Wayne County suburbs increasingly are buying tax-foreclosed homes and selling them to developers who flip them for profits, prompting criticism that city officials are driving residents from their homes.

In Lincoln Park, several former owners still living in their homes are pleading with city officials to stop the developers from evicting them. The city bought 90 tax-foreclosed homes this summer from the county treasurer before they could be sold at an annual auction open to the public.

The city's goal was to stop blight and prevent absentee landlords from purchasing the homes. But former owners including Marvin Barski Jr. said they should have another chance to save their homes. He lost a brick ranch that his family has owned for 60 years because of an unpaid $1,200 bill.

He just recently got an eviction notice from the developer, JSR Funding, based in Warren.

"It has made me so sick," said Barski, 58, an aircraft mechanic. "This house means everything to me. I grew up in this house. ... I don't know where I will go."

Similar stories are echoing throughout the county, as suburbs are taking advantage of a county policy that allows municipalities to buy properties before the online auction. Taylor purchased 106 properties, while Redford Township took 76, Dearborn, 35, and Garden City, 28.

After pleas to the City Council, Dearborn recently resold eight occupied tax-foreclosed homes to former owners with restrictions they maintain them, a city spokeswoman said.

Barski could have avoided foreclosure. By law, homes are foreclosed after taxes go unpaid for three years.

Barski missed several deadlines to make payments on 2012 taxes, but was current on 2013-2015 bills. He said he was confused, had surgery and didn't realize paying the oldest debt would prevent foreclosure.

"I feel dumb, gullible and stupid," said Barski.

Lincoln Park Emergency Manager Brad Coulter said he can't help Barski or other homeowners who haven't paid their tax bills because the city can't go back on the contract with the developer, which was competitively bid.

"If they had gone through the tax auction, they'd be going through the same system," Coulter said of the former homeowners. "We are in this tough spot of 'Where have you been for the last six months?'"

"We could have helped point you toward assistance."The city sold the 90 homes to JSR for the $836,000 in back taxes owed. That's the amount Lincoln Park paid the county for the homes.

JSR paid the current summer taxes and water bills and will invest at least $15,000 per house rehabbing them. The company keeps any profit from the sale.

"The city's housing stock is significantly improved and taxable values are increased," Jim Budziak of JSR wrote in an email to The News. "Had the city not exercised its right of first refusal, the properties would have been sold at the Wayne County auction and the city would be subject to the whims of individual/investor auction purchasers."

Garden City has a similar deal with JSR to rehab 17 homes. Mayor Randy Walker said he feels sympathy for homeowners but the program will help bring new residents in.

"We have to bring property values back up," Walker said. "I don't buy into these people saying they had no idea (about the foreclosure). ... There is a consequence for everything."

Barski's attorney Tarek Baydoun argues the developer's contract should be voided because it doesn't meet the law's requirement that there be a "public purpose" when the city buys an owner-occupied tax foreclosure.

"That's not good for the city to take houses from people who have equity in their houses," said Baydoun, who also has clients in Garden City.

In Redford Township, Michael Dennis, the director of the community development department, said developers have helped displaced homeowners find new homes.

Brandy Gutierrez is waiting to see if JSR follows through evicting her from her Lincoln Park home. She said her estranged husband never told her he wasn't paying the taxes until the unpaid bill accumulated to nearly $12,000. She was able to borrow enough to pay about $8,000 in December and got on a payment plan.

County officials say she didn't make those payments and Lincoln Park bought the home in July. Gutierrez said county staffers told her she had until October to pay and went to the city that month with a $4,000 cashier's check hoping to save it.

She hasn't told her two kids, 10 and 12, that they might soon lose the home.

"I am afraid tomorrow they could throw me out," Gutierrez said. "I can't sleep. I can't eat."



On the House: Mortgages are the top consumer finance complaint

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Written by Super User

The complaint report to which Cordray refers is published monthly by the bureau and has been since 2011, when, if memory serves, the agency really got up and running.

Since then, it has received more mortgage-related complaints than complaints related to any other type of financial product.

As of Sept. 1, the bureau had handled 192,500 mortgage-related complaints. A familiar one regards continued problems experienced by homeowners trying to prevent foreclosure.

More than 50 percent of mortgage complaints have to do with the problems that consumers face when they are unable to make their payments.

Consumers complain of delays and a lack of information when applying for loan modifications.

In addition, consumers complain that servicers often move forward with foreclosure proceedings while the consumers modification application is still under review.

Heres a complaint I must get once a week: lack of information when loans are transferred.

Consumers report experiencing confusion and frustration about where to make their payments when their loans are transferred. And when the loan transfers occur, consumers complain that their payments often increase unexpectedly.

They also say that they do not feel properly informed about their loans being transferred.

Having trouble making payments is another biggie.

Nearly one-third of mortgage complaints came from consumers saying that they have trouble making the proper payments on their loans.

They describe mortgage companies not accepting payments of anything less than the full balance owed, or finding that their payments were not properly applied despite their instructions.

In August, the most complained about financial product or service was debt collection, representing about 29 percent of complaints submitted.

Of the 25,732 complaints handled in August, 7,582 were on debt collection.

The second most complained about consumer product was credit reporting, accounting for 5,733 complaints.

In a year-to-year comparison, consumer-loan complaints, including pawn loans, title loans, and installment loans, showed the greatest percentage increase: 47 percent, nearly doubling from last year.

Payday-loan complaints showed the greatest percentage decrease - 12 percent - over the same three-month (June-August) period in 2014 and 2015. They decreased from 526 complaints in 2014 to 463 in 2015.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau expects companies to respond to complaints, and to describe the steps they have taken or plan to take to resolve the complaint within 15 days of receipt.

The bureau expects companies to close all but the most complicated complaints within 60 days.

To register your grievances, go to www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint or call the toll-free number at 1-855-411-2372.

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215-854-2472@alheavens