Friday, February 4, 2011

Borrowers Bill of Rights proposed in Legislature

Legislation has been introduced to create a Borrowers Bill of Rights in Arizona.

The goal is to try to protect homeowners from abusive mortgage practices and to make servicers more accountable to borrowers and regulators.

House Bill 2383, introduced by Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, requires mortgage servicers to protect the rights of homeowners under the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

The legislation would help ensure borrowers receive timely and accurate responses and information on how to avoid foreclosure from servicers; avoid foreclosure during loan-modification negotiations; and all of their foreclosure documents must be accurate. The Arizona attorney general has received hundreds of complaints from homeowners who believe they have been victims of abusive mortgage-servicer practices. Both the Arizona and Nevada attorneys general sued Bank of America over its mortgage-servicer practices late last year.

Earlier this month, Chase Home Finance agreed to adopt a borrowers bill of rights in Arizona, like the one proposed with this legislation. The lender also agreed to pay $600,000 to help the state attorney general in helping homeowners in foreclosure.

"The foreclosure abuses we have seen have hurt Arizona homeowners and our economy," McCune Davis said. "Now more than ever, we need to hold these abusive mortgage servicers accountable. Arizona has the opportunity to fix a broken system, get our economy moving again and protect essential services for middle-class homeowners."

This legislation would apply to all companies that service mortgages in the state.

Homebuilding down in 2010

The final tally for the number of new homes built across metro Phoenix in 2010 is, as expected, at least a three-decade low for the market.

Last year, 6,822 single-family construction permits were issued, according to RL Brown's "Phoenix Housing Market Letter." That compares with 8,027 new homes in 2009.

Metro Phoenix competed with Atlanta to lead the nation in homebuilding before and during the boom.

Brown said 2010 was an "economic black hole" for most of the area's homebuilding market but was optimistic 2011 would be slightly better.

Nev. homeowners walk away

A new report shows at least one in four Nevada homeowners in foreclosure last year said they "walked away," despite being able to afford their mortgage payments.

The survey done by the Nevada Association of Realtors found that most homeowners facing foreclosure in that state aren't aware of federal and non-profit programs that could help them.

More than 60 percent of the Nevada borrowers facing foreclosure or who had already lost homes hadn't heard of the federal loan-modification and short-sale programs.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Jan. 26, 2011 12:00 AM

Borrowers Bill of Rights proposed in Legislature

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