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Unemployed are new faces of mortgage defaults

Unemployed new faces of mortgage defaults as depicted by one Ohio homeowner

Sharon Majors never cared to learn the stories behind the foreclosed homes she passed on her way home from work until she became one of them.

The 52-year-old Hamilton resident said she’d seen the headlines screaming “Foreclosure Crisis” and read about the programs created to help homeowners save their home when they couldn’t afford the payments. But she had a job and her bills were reasonable — until she found herself unemployed.

“I felt like I was playing catch-up, wondering what all those things were I read about receiving help. I never thought I would need it,” Majors said.

That’s the story echoing in the auction room of the Historic Butler County Court House, where foreclosed properties are sent to sale every Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

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While fewer homes were sold at auction last year than in 2008 — 955 in 2009 versus 1,390 in 2008 — about 48 more foreclosures were filed, according to statistics from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

December proved worst in 2009 than previous years, with 255 foreclosures filed in the county and 60 properties sold at auction, compared to 198 filings and 50 sales for the same month last year, according to the sheriff’s office.

And 2010 isn’t shaping up to be any better. About 92 foreclosures have been filed, with the sheriff’s office reporting 43 sales so far in January — comparable to the same point last year.

Homeowners now struggling to make mortgage payments are the unemployed and those with reduced work hours

Homeowners were still struggling to pay their mortgages in 2009, but for different reasons than the original wave of foreclosures from adjustable rate mortgages that started the housing market tsunami in 2007. Now residents faced with unemployment and reduced hours are having trouble making ends meet.

Fortunately, because of the intense focus on the crisis, more banks are negotiating and more agencies are stepping up to offer assistance, said Lori Batdorf, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services.

Through the federal Making Home Affordable plan, Majors said she was able to contact her lender, Bank of America, and file paperwork for a loan modification to lower her interest rate and put her home payments within her reach. For now, her foreclosure filing has been withdrawn.

“I never felt sorry for those people who lost their home. I thought it was their fault, until I became one,” she said. “Now I am glad for the help.”

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Homeowners – Need Some Sound Advice?

Get Out of Debt Workbook
Seasoned debt expert shares several little known but highly effective techniques guaranteed to get you out of debt fast – no matter how much you currently owe.
Stop Foreclosure
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If you are visiting this blog, you likely have mortgage lates, which are a big blemish on your credit report. Once you resolve your mortgage situation, you can legally remove those mortgage lates and all derogatory credit from your report without having to hire an expensive attorney or credit repair service.

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