Experts Donate Time to Educate Distressed Homeowners
More than 70,000 people are delinquent on their mortgages here in Nevada. Even more are underwater, which means they owe more than their home is worth. Foreclosures have dropped over the past two years, but they're expected to pick up again.
On Tuesday night, six local real estate and legal experts held a seminar to help distressed homeowners. The free seminar was held at Depoali Middle School in Southwest Reno. About 60 people showed up to learn from the experts who all donated their time.
One of the issues that is confusing to homeowners is that the rules and programs for short sales and foreclosures change constantly, and keeping up with the changes is a full time job. Local attorney Jamie Cogburn says it's important to know what your options are. "The most popular are re-finance, loan modification and short sale," said Cogburn.
Carlos Mejia has been trying to modify his loan for three years. "My house is underwater. I bought it for a higher price and now it's worth $220,000, I bought it for $450,000," he said. Mejia says he's still making his payments, but he needs to find out what his future holds. "I want to keep my house," said Mejia. "But when I call they send me papers telling me instead of paying less, I'll be paying more."
Every situation is different, but there is help available. And the real estate experts say banks are constantly changing the way they handle distressed homes. Cogburn says knowing whether you plan to stay in your home for the long term will help you decide if you should modify the loan or sell your house. "You really need to figure out what your long term goal is and look at your financial situation and figure out which option is best for you," said Cogburn.
Emma Post of the Nevada Hardest Hit Fund talked about grants from the federal government that are available to qualifying Nevada homeowners. Those grants are designed to help reduce the principal on home loans that are underwater. "The latest one was about $1,700 and as much as $240,0000 written off," Post told the audience.
Cogburn says Assembly Bill 284 stalled foreclosures in Nevada for the past two years, but he expects that to change. "We're already seeing foreclosures start to pick up," he said. "They always slow down during the holidays, but after the first of the year, especially with the presidential election over, you're going to see foreclosures pick up drastically."
The panelists did say that if you've tried to modify your loan or arrange a short sale, you may want to try again since some of the programs have changed, just in the past two weeks.