Foreclosure countywide problem

Foreclosure countywide problem

October 16th, 2010 by Mike Pare in News

While Brainerd and East Chattanooga are two parts of Hamilton County hit hard by home foreclosures, Ooltewah, East Brainerd, Hixson, East Ridge and Soddy-Daisy are hurting as well, according to figures for the first eight months of the year.

"No area is insulated from this problem," said Jason Farmer of Re/Max Renaissance Realtors in Chattanooga.

Foreclosure actions happen after homeowners default on their mortgages. And that's a problem affecting people in many income brackets, said Blane Andrews of Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise.

CNE recently sponsored a community meeting about foreclosures at the Carver Recreation Center. Andrews said it doesn't matter if someone is earning $30,000 annually or $80,000.

"People's lifestyles are based on their income," he said. "When you lose a job, you've got people having trouble making their mortgage payment."

Chattanooga homeowner Donna Macon, who took part in the community meeting, said she didn't know foreclosures were so bad in the city.

"It's becoming common - like breathing," she said.

Data show over 1,000 Hamilton County homes in foreclosure in local ZIP codes through August, according to RealtyTrac. Just a handful of ZIP codes in the county had no or few foreclosures.

The 37411 ZIP code, which covers some of Brainerd, had 156 foreclosures and the nearby 37406 ZIP code recorded another 135, figures show.

The 37363 ZIP code, which includes Ooltewah, had 180 foreclosures in the first eight months and the East Brainerd ZIP, 37421, reported 181.

Randy Durham, Chattanooga Association of Realtors president, said there are enough foreclosures in the area to affect home values, though not dramatically.

"We'll see a drop in values until the foreclosures go through the market," he said.

Farmer said Realtors are just beginning to see a reduction in the number of foreclosure actions in the wake of the so-called "robo-signing" of documents. Recent reports indicate that many mortgage lenders routinely rubber-stamped foreclosures without looking at the paperwork.

This week, 50 state attorneys general announced they were investigating the practices of the mortgage servicing industry. Some lenders have frozen or curbed foreclosure actions.

"As that is being looked at ... we're definitely seeing an inventory adjustment," Farmer said.

But, he said, that doesn't stop the foreclosure problem.

"This is a temporary slowdown," Farmer said.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: States' probe of foreclosures could force reforms

Article: Delinquent mortgages push up foreclosures

Article: Learn to prevent foreclosure

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