Monday, October 23, 2006

Auctions 'Familiar Sight' In Virginia

The Virginia Pilot. "Auctions of homes in foreclosure have become familiar sights at courthouses throughout Hampton Roads. John J. Allen warns that many more are in the works. At Child & Family Services of Eastern Virginia, the number of cash-strapped homeowners seeking help to avoid foreclosure has jumped sharply during the past six months, said Allen, vice president of the agency."

"During the frenzied pursuit of homeownership in 2004 and 2005, many Hampton Roads home buyers used adjustable-rate mortgages as a way to buy a home that they could not otherwise afford, Allen said. 'There will be a continued increase in foreclosures during the next two to five years,' Allen predicted, because 'ARMs are not going to be adjusting downward any time soon.'"

"Earlier, many homes at risk were concentrated in neighborhoods with modest household incomes, such as the Portlock section of Chesapeake and the Lafayette Manor neighborhood of Norfolk. More recently, homes in several sections of Virginia Beach, including the affluent Wolfsnare area, have become seriously delinquent and risk foreclosure."

"It isn’t clear what triggered the foreclosure on a year-old second mortgage at 8700 Tidewater Drive, and the owner could not be reached for comment last week. The home, with a 'No Trespassing' sign in one window, appeared vacant, and the owner’s phone number has been disconnected."

"Like this mortgage, many in Hampton Roads that are seriously delinquent or in foreclosure were taken out within the past two years."

"Individuals determined to get into a house often failed to plan for the higher monthly payments that would begin once the 'teaser' rates on their adjustable-rate mortgages expired, Allen said."

"Meanwhile, homeowners tapped the sudden increase in their home equity by taking out second mortgages to repay credit-card debt. Some, however, failed to curb their use of credit cards and ran up their debt a second time, said Sharon Neuhaus, for (a) credit-counseling service. 'Now they have a second mortgage on top of their credit-card debt' and find it difficult to make their mortgage payments, Neuhaus said."

"Another notable change in mortgage lending has been the availability of costly home loans to borrowers with a tarnished credit history. Some individuals seeking help rushed to buy a home and relied on these subprime mortgages to do it, said Luxmy Panzardi, a housing counselor."

"Throughout Virginia, fewer investors are showing up at foreclosure auctions, and more homes end up in the hands of lenders, said Eric White, VP of a Virginia Beach law firm. That trend may be taking hold in Hampton Roads as well, where investors are known to be especially aggressive at courting homeowners who default on their mortgages."

"Dean Taylor, who buys homes to renovate and resell, arrived at the auction with a deposit check in hand. He said he decided against bidding because there might not have been any profit available after paying at least $57,738 for the foreclosed second mortgage, another $78,000 for the first mortgage and an unknown amount for repairs to the house."

"The auction was over in minutes. Standing outside the Norfolk Circuit Court on Tuesday, attorney Richard A. Knee quickly read a description of the property and asked for bids."

"He was selling the modest, 64-year-old house on behalf of a lender owed $57,738. When two prospective bidders didn’t respond, Knee declared that the lender, CitiFinancial Inc., was the successful bidder and made note of the sale."

"After the auction, Taylor described investors’ reduced appetite for foreclosed homes this way: 'A year ago, there would have been 30 or 40 people here.'"


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