Foreclosure Help Afoot at the Wilson Building
Help is on the way from multiple sources today for homeowners at risk of foreclosure.
Firstly, Attorney General Peter Nickles is trying to tackle the problem of foreclosure notices, the pieces of paper homeowners get when lenders plan to take back their properties. The issue is this: With the amount of buying and selling of mortgages that's gone on over the last few years, many of those secondary transactions may not have been recorded in the District's land records system, which means that the noteholder that shows up on your foreclosure notice may not actually have a security interest in your property. If it doesn't, you'll have a harder time finding a basis to challenge the validity of the foreclosure in court, which violates District consumer protection laws.
Enforcement actions haven't yet been taken, but Nickels suggests that if enough people complain, he might sue the offending parties. So: If you're being foreclosed upon, find out who actually owns your mortgage, and if there might be a way to quibble with the process. Get legal help if you can afford it. And never trust city databases.
The other foreclosure lifeline for homeowners comes in the form of a bill passed yesterday through Councilmember Muriel Bowser's Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs. The measure would mandate mediation between the lender and the homeowner before the foreclosure proceeds, and require lenders that do foreclose to offer to rent the building back to the original owner at a fair market rate. Short of a foreclosure moratorium, the first part would significantly slow the rate of foreclosures, giving homeowners a four-month-long shot at loan modification before the foreclosure can proceed.
The measure will come before the full Council on November 2.
Photo by flickr user respres.