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Laredo Morning Times, June 14, 2009, page 1

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ECONOMY

Foreclosures

For help with your mortgage

They’re up in the county, state By JULIETA CHIQUILLO LAREDO MORNING TIMES

By JULIETA CHIQUILLO LAREDO MORNING TIMES Among the hardest hit by the housing industry crisis are the homeowners themselves — some because they took on more than they could afford, and others simply the victims of circumstances beyond their control. Neighborhoods with foreclosed properties are also

See HELP | PAGE 16A

Hugo Lozano’s youngest son used to play with his Hot Wheels on a windowsill in his parents’ one-bedroom apartment on Clark Avenue. But Lozano had bigger dreams for his family. In 2003, Lozano and his wife bought a $125,000 house in Village Heights, where their two boys would each have their own room to play in. They invested a lot in the house. The Lozanos retiled the

floor and did some other maintenance work themselves. The house also welcomed a daughter, now 9 months old.

Working something out “It wasn’t only a house or a dream to own a house,” said Lozano, a customer service manager at a local bank. “It was our home.” But by the end of 2007, the bills were piling up as the couple struggled with their mortgage payments. Facing the risk of fore-

closure, they sought help from local nonprofit Laredo-Webb Neighborhood Housing Services and managed to work out a deal with their mortgage company. They’re among the lucky ones. The number of mortgage foreclosure listings in Webb County rose 22 percent during the first six months of 2009, with the county reporting a monthly average of 165 listings. That’s compared to a monthly average of 135 in the first half of 2008, according to figures

See FORECLOSURES | PAGE 16A

OBITUARY

Laredo artistic icon, 67, dies By TARYN WHITE LAREDO MORNING TIMES

Remembered for his exceptional photography, his sense of humor and his sympathetic and caring personality, T.R. Esquivel Jr., 67, died at Doctors Hospital on Friday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. “He always had the best advice,”


Laredo Morning Times, June 14, 2009, page 16

Photo by Ulysses S. Romero | Laredo Morning Times

Hugo Lozano poses in front of his home, which he managed to save from foreclosure.

FORECLOSURES

las and Houston, realtors infrom the county clerk’s ofdicate that 30 to 40 percent fice. of the homes in the MultiSome properties may be ple Listing Service are disrepeated from month to tress sales, Gaines said. month if they didn’t sell in Laredo, Webb County previous auctions. and Texas are faring better Before 2008, the county than the rest of the country, posted fewer than 100 forebut they are not doing as closure listings per month, well as they once were dosaid Margie R. Ibarra, couning, Gaines said. ty clerk. According to realty“I really don’t know what trac.com, a Web site that the problem is with every tracks housing market family,” Ibarra said. “Some trends, Texas trails 26 other maybe have lost their job. states in terms of forecloBut we encourage them to sure rates, with Nevada save their house.” and California heading the Webb County is not list. In Nevada, one in every alone. Bexar, Travis, 64 housing units received Williamson, Hays and Basforeclosure filings during trop counties also have seen May, and in California, it an increase in mortgage was one in every 144, acforeclosure listings, the last cording to realtytrac.com. four reporting an increase Texas stands at one in of more than 50 percent in every 961, according to the the first six months of the Web site. year compared to the first In Laredo, about 16 perhalf of last year, according cent of houses on the marto news reports. ket are owned by banks or Ibarra said 49 homes lenders, while the rest of have already been posted for the houses are property of the July auction. The deadindividual owners, inline to post for the July aucvestors or builders, said tion is June 17, Ibarra said, Elizabeth O’Connor from noting that most people post Coldwell Banker Ana closer to the deadline. Ochoa & Co., citing MultiThe county clerk’s office ple Listing Service data. does not keep track of auction sales, but San Antoniobased company Real Estate Foreclosures Inc. provides Photo by Ulysses S. Romero Laredo Morning Times Ibarra with a complimenOne real| estate indicator d to save from foreclosure. tary report of monthly that measures demand in sales. According to the the housing market is April report, 48 out of 175 months of inventory, which foreclosure listings sold. equals the number of hous| Continued from Page 1A Similarly, 57 houses sold es on the market divided by out of 175 posted for the the average number of ealtors inMay auction. In economy June, 48 Membership at the Larematter what the houses sold monthly . The housesPoteet sold out market is balanced when 40 percent Builders Association is does,” said.of 164 list- do ings, Ibarra said. there are35; sixitmonths ofas inthe Multicurrently has been However, builders have ventory . Poteet said. ce are dishigh as 62, been hit by high construcAccording to themay Realbe Essaid. tion prices and poor sales. (Julieta Chiquillo tate Center, the or Laredo County “A lot of builders are reached at 728-2557 julihousing market) has 8.7 The number of houses ing better breaking even,” Poteet said. eta@lmtonline.com months of inventory. sold in Laredo during the e country, That’s a buyer’s market, first four months of the doing as O’Connor said, denoted by a year dropped from 307 in were donumber higher than six 2008 to 280 in 2009, accordmonths of inventory, meaning to the latest data from o realtying there are more sellers the Real Estate Center at site that than buyers. Texas A&M University . market Tight lending reduces Real estate prices also ls 26 other the number of prospective have taken a dive. The mef foreclobuyers, O’Connor said. dian price for a home in h Nevada “Underwriters are exLaredo in April was ading the tremely picky about the $116,000, down from e in every loans they give,” she said. $120,800 at that time last received The real estate agency year, according to the Real gs during now closes a sale in 45 days Estate Center. fornia, it instead of 30 because of the Home values are showy 144, acadditional paperwork reing this kind of decline ytrac.com. quired by increasingly across the state, partially t one in stringent lenders, O’Condue to distress sales, such ing to the nor said. as REOs, short sales and But the Laredo market is foreclosures, said Jim ut 16 percloser to balance than it Gaines, a research econon the marwas a few months ago, mist at the Real Estate Cenbanks or Gaines said, noting it had ter. he rest of recorded as many as 9.9 REOs, or real estate roperty of months of inventory in Noowned, are properties acners, invember. quired by a bank or lender ders, said A market with more sellthrough auction when bids nor from ers than buyers will benefit are not high enough to cover Ana buyers because sellers will er the original loan ng Multilower their prices to get rid amount. e data. of their excess inventory. “Theoretically, lenders “Right now is a great will make a bid that is equal time to buy,” Gaines said. to what is owed to them,” “If you’re a buyer and you Gaines said. understand the pressures of Short sales occur when indicator the market, you can negotihomeowners sell their emand in ate a better price.” property to avoid foreclomarket is sure and the lender accepts ory, which an amount that might be r of housless than what is owed. divided by For example, if a person Paul Poteet, president of umber of has a $100,000 mortgage and the Laredo Builders Associnthly. The the house sells for $90,000 in ation, said he remains opticed when a short sale, the lender mistic about the housing nths of inagrees to release the person market, noting that border from the remaining $10,000, cities and towns generate e Real EsGaines said. Lenders may business from federal law e Laredo prefer short sales to forecloenforcement agents movhas 8.7 sures because the former ing to the area and Mexican ory. will save lenders money on nationals moving across ’s market, the legal and administrathe border for security reanoted by a tive expenses related to the sons. For example, Poteet than six foreclosure process, Gaines said he was acquainted ory, meansaid. with the case of a man who re sellers Distress sales, combined was kidnapped in Mexico with a downward economy and who bought three housreduces and builders’ excess invenes in McAllen for his famirospective tory, are pushing prices ly, parents and siblings the said. down, Gaines said. week after his release. are exIn large markets like Dal“People have needs no about the he said. e agency in 45 days use of the rwork rereasingly

Buyer’s market

OSURES

Statewide trend

rket

Taking the hit

| Continued from Page 1A

matter what the economy does,” Poteet said. However, builders have been hit by high construction prices and poor sales. “A lot of builders are breaking even,” Poteet said.

Membership at the Laredo Builders Association is currently 35; it has been as high as 62, Poteet said. (Julieta Chiquillo may be reached at 728-2557 or julieta@lmtonline.com)

SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 2009

HELP | Continued from Page 1A taking the blow, since those properties decrease the value of surrounding homes. The Obama administration’s Making Home Affordable program went into effect in March and aims to help as many as 9 million homeowners who are current on their mortgage but struggling with their payments. Homeowners may be eligible to refinance their loan if their mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, they are current on their mortgage and what they owe on their first mortgage is about the same or slightly less than the current house value, among other requirements. Refinancing does not reduce the principal amount owed, but it lowers interest rates, making payments more affordable, according to the program’s Web site. Homeowners whose mortgage is not owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may be eligible for a loan modification, which would temporarily lower their interest rate or extend their loan term. To apply, homeowners must be current on their mortgage payments, have an unpaid principal balance less than $729,950

and have mortgage payments that exceed 31 percent of their monthly pretax income, among other requisites. Servicers, the companies that collect mortgage payments, are not required to participate in the program, but those that do receive government incentives. To find out if you’re eligible for the program, contact your servicer. Free counseling is also available for troubled homeowners. Laredo-Webb NHS and the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater San Antonio are two government-approved housing counselors in the Laredo area. „ To find a governmentapproved counselor in your area, visit www.findaforeclosurecounselor.com or call 1-888-995-HOPE „ For local counseling, call Laredo-Webb NHS at 712-9100 or the Consumer Credit Counseling of Greater San Antonio at 7913328 „ For more information about foreclosure, visit www.texasforeclosurehelp.o rg or www.hud.gov/foreclosure „ To report a scam, visit www.oag.state.tx.us

they owe on their first mortgage is about the same or slightly less than the current house value, among other requirements. Refinancing does not reduce the principal amount owed, but it lowers interest rates, making payments more affordable, according to the program’s Web site. Homeowners whose mortgage is not owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may be eligible for a loan modification, which would temporarily lower their interest rate or extend their loan term. To apply, homeowners must be current on their mortgage payments, have an unpaid principal balance less than $729,950

Counseling Service Greater San Antonio two government-appro housing counselors in Laredo area. „ To find a governme approved counselor in y area, visit www.findafo closurecounselor.com call 1-888-995-HOPE „ For local counseli call Laredo-Webb NHS 712-9100 or the Consum Credit Counseling Greater San Antonio at 3328 „ For more informat about foreclosure, v www.texasforeclosurehe rg or www.hud.gov/fore sure „ To report a scam, v www.oag.state.tx.us


Webb County Foreclosures