State could do more to help prevent foreclosures

March 5, 2008 1:31:55 PM PST
Foreclosures in North Carolina are expected to jump 20 percent this year over last, according to Deputy Commissioner of Banks Mark Pearce.

Speaking to a crowd of bankers, counselors and community groups that help homeowners avoid foreclosure, Pearce says it's everybody's problem.

"If you have two or three foreclosures in your neighborhood, property values in the entire neighborhood start to go down." When that happens, Pearce explained that tax revenue for local governments goes down.

"They'll have to provide additional services and will have less money to do it," Pearce said. State Representative Dan Blue (D-Wake County), who is the current chairman of the House Select Committee on Rising Home Foreclosures, told the crowd that tougher state laws have helped cracked down on predatory lending.

"Those who intentionally mislead borrowers are subject to criminal prosecution," Blue said and added that the state could do more.

Pearce says 60,000 North Carolinians have started the foreclosure process so far this year, about 16 percent higher than the 50,000 at the same time last year.

Pearce says the N.C. General Assembly should consider increasing money for housing counselors and for enforcement of state laws.

"We need to regulate the companies that are mortgage servicers, not the ones who originate the loans but the companies that takeover."

Pearce says the attorney general's office, housing finance agencies and 25 counseling organizations across the state are working on the front lines to help homeowners.

Wednesday's panel discussion was organized by NC Policy Watch.

A new Web site www.ncforeclosurehelp.org can answer homeowners questions about foreclosure, how to avoid it and what to do if they feel that they're a victim of predatory lending.

Homeowners can also call 1-888-995-HOPE for help too.


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