May 8, 2012

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Housing Summit Looks at Foreclosures

Di Lewis

May 8, 2012

A panel of Utah housing experts discussed foreclosures, as well as briefly talking about programs to modify loans and revive homeownership, at the 2012 Salt Lake Housing Summit.

Held at the Realtor Campus in Sandy, the summit focused on foreclosures and short sales.

At the lunchtime panel, Paxton Guymon spoke about how to protect clients who buy foreclosed or short sale properties.

Guymon, a foreclosure rights attorney with Miller Guymon, said few lenders are suing short-sale buyers for a deficiency between the purchase price and the original loan amount. However, it’s still good whenever possible to include language barring a deficiency lawsuit in purchase agreements.

He said some buyers of foreclosed properties are also offering “cash for keys” deals to anyone still living on the foreclosed properties. Rather than go through the time and hassle of an eviction, he said those kind of deals are becoming more common.

Beginning in 2009, tenants in foreclosed properties obtained new rights, Guymon said, and many people still don’t realize it. Buyers and tenants of foreclosed properties should educate themselves about tenant rights.

John Swallow, Utah deputy attorney general, said the state is getting $170 million from a $25 billion national foreclosure settlement. The money will be split between several programs: homeowner education, funding two mortgage fraud lawyers in the attorney general’s office, assistance for people trying to avoid foreclosure and settlement money for people who have already been foreclosed on.

Swallow said the attorney general’s office felt like some people were being duped into foreclosure. The people were being advised to stop making mortgage payments in order to qualify for help. At the same time, the same lender would begin foreclosure proceedings because mortgage payments had stopped.

In addition to the help Swallow said the state hopes to give, Kristin Johnson, HUD counselor with Cornerstone Financial, said she and other nonprofits are trying to help people through counseling and loan modifications.

The other panelist was Deon Spilker, director of mortgage banking with the Utah Housing Corporations, who spoke about the organization’s new homebuyer assistance program, which targets second-time homebuyers and those who have credit scores as low as 620.



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