Foreclosures have slowed in metro Phoenix from last year, but there are still homeowners struggling to make their payments.
Here's some updated advice from one of Arizona's top housing advocates, Patricia Garcia Duarte, chief executive of Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix.
Her first piece of advice for homeowners facing losing their homes is to call the Arizona Foreclosure Prevention Hotline at 877-448-1211 or go to www.azforeclosureprevention.org.
What is the biggest hurdle Arizona homeowners facing foreclosure now are dealing with?
"Understanding the many resources that are available," Duarte said. "(Housing) program updates and changes have been made, and the transition to new and improved resources may cause some delays."
This includes changes to the federal government's Housing Affordable Modification Program and the Housing Affordable Refinancing Program.
Also, she said many Arizona homeowners are still struggling with under-employment or unemployment.
The Arizona Department of Housing has federal funds from the Hardest Hit Program to help under-employed people pay their mortgage for almost two years. Go go www.housingaz.com.
Foreclosures have been slowing, so many think Arizona's problem is fixing itself? Why or why not is that true?
"The number of foreclosures is slowing," Duarte said. "However, we need to be cautious about this number. More people are conducting short-sales instead of going into foreclosure. The number of foreclosures, year to date, is still higher than it should be in a 'normal' year."
There are currently about 2,000 foreclosures a month in metro Phoenix. During a normal year, lenders would take back that many homes over 12 months.
What is the first thing homeowners facing foreclosure should do?
"Update their household budget and communicate with their lender/servicer," Duarte said.
She said their second move should be to seek the assistance of an expert such as a certified counselor at an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These counselors provide free help to homeowners.
What should homeowners facing foreclosure avoid?
"Ignoring the problem," Durate said.
Also, she advises homeowners to avoid paying someone for help with a modification, and avoid spending on unnecessary items.
Are there more scams hurting homeowners facing foreclosure?
"Scammers still promote packaging modifications for a fee and do nothing (to help the homeowners)," Duarte said. "Charging up-front fees is now illegal."
by Catherine Reagor - Aug. 24, 2012 The Republic
Advice for Arizonans on brink of foreclosure
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