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Ohio foreclosures, little oversight
Friday, 06 April 2007

Predatory lending, little oversight create bad situation for homeowners, and help won't be coming soon
"We are overwhelmed, and unfortunately when people call we're telling them that we just don't have the staff to handle them," said Jim McCarthy, MVFH president and CEO. To compound the problem, scam artists looking to make a quick buck are using foreclosure and other public records to prey on panicked consumers, said Beth Deutscher, executive director of the Home Ownership Center of Greater Dayton.

Predatory lending, little oversight create bad situation for homeowners, and help won't be coming soon

By Lisa A. Bernard
Staff Writer
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen

More than ever in recent history, Ohio homeowners are at threat of loosing their homes through foreclosure — a crisis officials say has been fueled by predatory lending and lax regulations.

Although state authorities say help is on the horizon, many admit resources are scarce.

Locally, the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center — which provides legal assistance for victims of predatory loans — has begun turning away new clients due to a cut in federal funding.

"We are overwhelmed, and unfortunately when people call we're telling them that we just don't have the staff to handle them," said Jim McCarthy, MVFH president and CEO. To compound the problem, scam artists looking to make a quick buck are using foreclosure and other public records to prey on panicked consumers, said Beth Deutscher, executive director of the Home Ownership Center of Greater Dayton.

"There are a number of companies who are taking advantage of people and using the foreclosure information as a marketing opportunity," Deutscher said. "In some cases they charge extreme fees and others they ask people to sign over ownership of the property, then the property will get rented back to the owner."

Still, Deutscher said, if foreclosure is looming the best step is to act quickly.

"The earlier someone reaches out for help, the better the chances are that they are going to be able to get back on track," she said.

Contact your lender: If you are having problems making your payments, call your lender's loss mitigation department. Explain your situation. Be prepared to provide them with financial information, such as your monthly income and expenses.

Seek financial counseling: Graceworks Consumer Credit Counseling and the Home Ownership Center of Greater Dayton are two agencies that offer free credit counseling and debt management. At times the groups also assist homeowners in working with lenders to modify terms of their mortgage. Call Graceworks toll free at (800) 377-2432. Call the Home Ownership Center at (937) 853-1600.

Beware of scams: Check with a lawyer or your mortgage company before entering into any deal involving your home. If you're selling the house yourself to avoid foreclosure, check to see if there are any complaints against the prospective buyer. Do not sign any papers you don't fully understand, and remember that signing over the deed to someone else does not necessarily relieve you of your loan obligation.

Other resources

Ohio Home Rescue Fund: Offers loans up to $3,000 per household to eligible homeowners in danger of foreclosure. Eligible families must have a household income at or below 65 percent of the area median income and be able to prove their ability to meet future mortgage obligations. In Montgomery County, for example, an individual's income cannot exceed $27,381 annually to be eligible. For a family of two, the level bumps to $31,322. Locally, the Home Ownership Center administers the program.

Toll-free 24-hour foreclosure hot line: Offered by NeighborWorks and the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. Call (888) 995-HOPE (4673).

Ohio Housing Finance Agency: On Monday, the OHFA plans to launch a new program aimed at helping troubled homeowners refinance their mortgages through issuing $100 million in taxable municipal bonds. Participants must have household incomes that do not exceed 125 percent of the medium income in their county. In Montgomery County that figure is $74,750. A list of participating lenders will be available Monday at www.OhioHome.org

 

Area foreclosure rates

The state of Ohio had 79,072 new foreclosure fillings in 2006, representing a 15,000 or 23.6 percent increase over 2005, according to a report released this week by Policy Matters Ohio.

 

County 2006 foreclosure
fillings
Population State rank*
Montgomery 5,076 542,237 2
Clark 1,113 141,872 6
Butler 2,580 354,992 12
Preble 307 42,491 13
Miami 521 101,914 41
Warren 1,029 201,871 42
Darke 259 52,780 48
Greene 670 152,298 59
Source: Policy Matters Ohio
* among Ohio's 88 counties

http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/business/2007/04/01/
ddn040107foreclosurehelp.html
 
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