People continue to lose homes

November 13, 2008 5:28:24 PM PST
Foreclosures across North Carolina were up 30 percent in October from the month before. However, there are signs of hope even for first-time homebuyers. Foreclosure numbers are not ideal, but they are much better than many other states.

Even in a so-called credit crisis, banks and lenders insist there is money to borrow for a home.

Even for people who thought they would always have to rent, like Wendell resident Anastasia Dennis.

She's a nursing assistant with four children and a husband whose full time job at Wal-Mart has been cut to part-time.

"He works as a stocker. And whenever their budget is not where it should be, they start to cut back on hours," Dennis said.

But with a baby on her hip, Dennis was working the room at a Wake County home-buyers convention Thursday. She says she is tired of renting.

"I want something that belongs to me and not someone else, plus for my children to have something when they get older also," Dennis said.

Even in this economy, banks and non-profit lenders say there is hope for first-time home buyers.

"CNN is all doom and gloom because negative news sells. But the reality is it's not that bad," First Citizens Bank Maria Croll said.

Bank standards for home loans are no doubt tighter, but they call it getting back to basics.

Borrowers with average credit scores of 600 are still qualifying for 6 percent fixed mortgages. But now they usually need cash down payments of 3 to 5 percent.

The days of reckless credit, they say, are gone.

"What was then called a NINA loan, which was no income, no asset. I didn't have to prove you had an income. I didn't have to prove you had an asset. And the option was there," Croll said.

And one non-profit lender is helping people escape foreclosure and keep their homes, by wrestling with banks to lower soaring adjustable interest rates.

"It just makes sense for one," NACA Mortgage Consultant Patricia Barden said. "And we just talk to your companies, your mitigation department, and force them. They got them in that mess - to fix it."

With the added foreclosures, there are almost twice as many homes for sale as realtors like to see and that does keep prices down. But it's a good situation for a first-time home buyer.


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