December 3, 2012 10:19:42 AM
Jeff Clark - [email protected]
Owning a home is part of the American dream. But for some, the dream can quickly become a nightmare of delayed mortgage payments and eventual foreclosure. To help those facing the reality of losing their home, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is bringing the Mississippi Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Consortium to Columbus Dec. 5 from 10-1 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club on 14th Avenue North.
"I created this consortium so our residents dealing with foreclosure issues could get free counseling and legal assistance, including re-financing and loan modification assistance," Hood said. "I hope by taking the consortium across the state that we can better help folks as well as remind them that there is an upcoming claims deadline of Jan. 18, 2013 for anyone qualified for the foreclosure payment under the national settlement."
Hood said attorneys and financial counselors with the partnering members of the consortium will be available to meet one-on-one with consumers.
According to RealtyTrac.com, there are currently 34 homes in foreclosure in Lowndes County, which is approximately .01 percent of the national average.
"Foreclosure is the absolute last thing a bank wants to do," real estate attorney Michael Freed said. "Foreclosures sound so bad, but remember, there are two parties involved and two parties that sign the contract. Realistically, all someone has to do is stay in touch with the bank and make efforts to work it out. Foreclosures have a lot to do with what type of loan you get. I don't do a lot with FHA (Federal Housing Authority) loans or mortgages -- I do mostly in-house bank loans. In Mississippi, there are no 'mortgages'-- they are referred to as a 'Deed of Trust.' A Deed of Trust is a loan that is secured with the property. The security is in the property. But again, banks aren't looking to get into the real estate business. If people will keep in contact with the bank regarding their problems, things can be worked out."
Freed said foreclosing on a home can be a lengthy process.
"I don't do a whole lot of foreclosures," Freed said. "I don't think it's a big problem in Mississippi or this area -- the statistics show this. If this were the East Coast or Nevada, then yes, it would be a problem. Foreclosing can take a while and it can be a big headache for everyone involved. Although notice isn't required by law, most attorneys notify their clients with a registered letter. Then, a notice has to run in the paper for three weeks but most attorneys run it for four weeks. The whole thing can take two to three months, and a lot of it can be worked out with the bank."
A spokesperson for Hood's office said homeowners unable to attend the clinic can still receive assistance from the consortium by calling 866-530-9572 or visiting msmortgagesettlement.com or agjimhood.com.