Home Foreclosures

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Despite national statistics that show foreclosures stabilizing across the country, one in every 164 Arizona homes went into foreclosure last month according to RealtyTrac.
The Arizona Foreclosure Prevention Task Force just released a copy of the Arizona Foreclosure Information workbook to help homeowners.
Patricia Garcia Duarte with the task force talks about the workbook and the latest information on foreclosures in the Arizona.
Arizona Foreclosure Taskforce

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Welcome to "Horizonte." Thank you for joining us. Arizona state's University's department of realty studies recently did a study that showed a rise in rising -- in existing home sales in Maricopa County while foreclosures have been declining. Arizona now has the fourth highest state foreclosure rate in the country. Joining me to talk about the latest home foreclosure in the state and a new resource for homeowners is Patricia Garcia Duarte, president and C.E.O. of neighborhood housing Services in Phoenix. She's also chair woman of the Arizona home foreclosure prevention task force. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
Good evening.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Please explain to us what the Arizona prevention task force is.

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
The Arizona foreclosure prevention task force really started about two years ago. The four regulatory agencies, the FDIC, the federal reserves, the O.T.S. and the O.C.C. had a housing summit a couple years back, and as a result of that summit, some key leaders in the community, we all discovered some of the trends and anticipated the problem that we were going to have here. -- So all of us, we just really rolled up our sleeves and decided we need to let the public know that there are resources available for people. And as we started to do our work, one of the things that we felt was very important is to have events. Awareness events so that families could come to a foreclosure prevention event and learn about what to do. And as we started to do more and more, we encountered that there was more organizations, companies, more rescue scams, so one of the reasons that we put together this foreclosure information workbook is to really have one place for the consumer to look at. It's important that they not fall victims of scammers.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Let's briefly, let me just backtrack, where are we? Where does the state -- I know we mentioned fourth nationally in foreclosed homes. Where are we with that, within the state itself? Where are those homes found, how big is that problem locally as we see it from inside?

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
The problem is big. We are one of the top states as you mentioned, and it's not one of the best places to be at the top of, but we are. Arizona is one of the fastest growing states, and a lot of people bought homes. It's not a problem only with new construction type homes, because a lot of people had a lot of equity in their houses, and they refinanced. Part of the problem was the type of mortgages that people got into. We started to see the first problems as loans were adjusting because people got into adjustable rate mortgages. So now the problem is the loss of income and unemployment. But the good thing is that people need to call the bank very early on, most of the foreclosures that were taking place, the people never picked up the phone to call the lender. So that's a problem. So we wanted to make sure that people call first. Call the lender; let them know what's happening. The sooner the people call, the better the likelihood that they can get some help.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
That's part of your homework. One of the things you identify in your book is, do your homework. Explain the homework process. You just mentioned one of things, I'm sure. What does that -- what is that list?

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
People need to know what situation you're in. If people are not behind but they think they're going to be falling behind, it all starts with knowing where they're at. Make sure they know what kind of loan they have. But before that, they need to have a budget. So that's one of the things that a H.U.D.-approved counseling agency, that's something they can expect from a housing counselor, is that they're going to get some assistance and the book has an example of a budget. People need to find out where they're their money is going. How are they spending their money? What are those spend hag bits? Because the bank is going to need to know. Their lender service is going to need to know what their financial situation is. What was the reason for that delay in payment, or what is the imminent risk? And there's an example in the workbook about -- an example of a hardship letter. There's specific components that need to be part of the letter and people can look at that by downloading the workbook, it's posted in the Arizona foreclosure prevention task force work site. It's also on the attorney general's website, and we will be having hard copies of the workbook in different locations. It will soon be translated into Spanish as well. This is a problem that has hit all economic levels. It's not just minority, it's not just low and moderate income, it's middle and higher income people as well.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Give us the name of the book first. What people should be looking for? What is that title?

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
The name of the book is "The Arizona Foreclosure Information Workbook."

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
In that book you have an abundance of information. You identify agencies that can help individuals. These agencies are they private, have they gone through some kind of process that you can approve, that you've approved them to be on the list? How did you identify these agencies?

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
First of all, H.U.D. approves nonprofit organizations to provide certain services. Counselors have to be certified through a training process and most of the entities get their training through a group called neighbor works America, a program called encheck. So it's a counseling certification process. And the counselors on staff that are part of a nonprofit housing counseling agency have been trained, and have a certificate for foreclosure intervention counseling. So they know what they're doing, and the Services are at no charge to the consumer. That's a very important distends, because people are being marketed and are being made believed that they need to have a third party to help them do a modification. There's different ways that people can talk to the lender about different options. There's a workout plan, a forbearance plan. The most commonly talked about now is a loan modification plan. But if it's determined that the family can't stay in the house, then our short sale is an option, or a deed in lieu. So there's five different ways that -- different options. And the people need to know that. Which one option is best for them?

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
And that's identified in the book that people can read and say, these are the descriptions, these are the agencies that are H.U.D.-approved that we going to help. But you also provide other details. You give examples of letters that helps them with the process of trying to keep their home. Bottom line, that's what this book does. It's supposed to help you walk you through the process of potentially keeping your home before you get into that horrible spot.

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
And that was -- that's the primary goal of the foreclosure prevention task force. To keep as many people in their homes because every foreclosure has a negative impact in that immediate neighborhood, in the community, and as you know right now, the foreclosures have really had a lot of damage in our communities. The price of real estate has really come down. And the sooner we stabilize our communities, the better off we will all be as a community, as a state, and as a nation.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
You were saying that the book is not in Spanish yet, but it will be very soon. A bilingual book for everyone to pick up. And the book can also be downloaded on the website. Is there a number they can call also for that information?

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
If the family for some reason is not getting through with their lender, then they should call the 877-448-1211. That's a toll-free number so that the family can be connected to a H.U.D.-approved counseling agency with qualified staff that can help them free of charge.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
And that number is on the screen right now. Are there any bilingual individuals that can help these individuals?

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
Yes. Most all of the agencies will have bilingual help.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
And certainly all that will be also available on the website for them as well if they need to download it or that number where they can obtain it.

Patricia Garcia Duarte:
Correct.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Thank you so much. We appreciate you coming here and hopefully we'll have you back to give us more better news down the road. Thank you so much.

Patricia Garcia Duarte:President and C.E.O., Neighborhood Housing Services in Phoenix and chair woman, Arizona Home Foreclosure Prevention Task Force

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