Asheville Foreclosure Increase is First Nationally

Downtown Asheville, NC

The Asheville, NC metro area has made news in a less than desirable way…the area’s 229% increase in foreclosures from 2009 to 2010 was the biggest increase in the United States.  Ouch!

According to RealtyTrac, the 4-county area saw 1,496 foreclosure filings in 2010, for a ranking of 175 out of 205 metro areas studied by RealtyTrac.

The story by Sandra Rodriguez from the Asheville Citizen-Times focuses on one couple in particular who has struggled to keep their house in Asheville, NC.  This hits home for me, as I live in the area and have seen too many people end up in similar situations.

Asheville is a tourism-based economy, and much of the real estate market is second homes.  When the bubble burst, the market here actually held on pretty strong until late 2007, with some outlying areas like Black Mountain clicking along until the stock market crash in the fall of 2008.

It may be that the skyrocketing foreclosure rates are actually a result of the market “catching up” to the rest of the nation.

But back to the couple in the article, the Randalls.  They originally worked out a forbearance with their lender, a type of temporary loan modification that provides brief short-term relief but requires significantly higher “catch up” payments later.  The Randalls then tried to work out a loan modification, only to find that their lender lost their mortgage payment!

The article illustrates the unfortunate truth about most lenders today.  They offer solutions that provide only temporarily relief (if that), but in the long run (maybe after only a few months) the house is back on the foreclosure block.  Fortunately for the Randalls, they were referred to Pisgah Legal Services, a local nonprofit law firm, and were able to get their mortgage payments negotiated down to 31% of their income.

“I didn’t know what rights we had,” Devon Randall said, “or if we even had a leg to stand on. Then the lawyers — they saved us.”

One final thought from the reporter…

The Randalls’ experience, foreclosure experts say, demonstrates why homeowners threatened with foreclosure need to secure financial and legal advice as early as possible.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

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