Maryland officials seek foreclosure help
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) traveled to Prince George’s County Monday and pressed lawmakers in Annapolis to pass legislation that would help people facing foreclosure find ways to stay in their homes.
Appearing alongside fair housing advocates, other elected officials and people struggling to hold on to their homes, Brown said a bill proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) would give eligible borrowers the right to seek mediation before a foreclosure sale.
“If the banks are willing to pick up the phone to put you in a home, they need to sit down at the table with a homeowner before they put them out on the street,” said Brown during a news conference Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington.
The bill faces an uncertain future, however. Some House committee members have questioned whether it would be cost-effective and whether the state is doing enough to discourage irresponsible loans.
Tyra General, a real estate consultant with Keller Williams Realty, said she also has questions about whether the bill would be effective.
“Homeowners need accurate information from the banks about what they can afford because even after a modification some people still can’t afford to keep their loan,” General said. “It is not as simple as reducing or modifying the loan.”
Even if the bill is passed challenges remain, said Melody Mfume, an attorney with Civil Justice Inc. which provides legal assistance to low and moderate income clients. “The Judiciary is not sympathetic to borrowers. The only question that the judges ask is when was the last time you paid your loan.”
Brentwood Mayor Xzavier C. Montgomery said homeowners have to share some of the blame for the foreclosure crisis.
“We live at a time where we supersize everything," Montgomery said. "We used to have single family homes, now we have McMansions and the banks have taken advantage of this. This has really hurt the economy and we have to realize that sometimes the regular size is okay.”
Vicki Edmister, 41, a postal worker and mother of three from Temple Hills, said she nearly lost her $360,000 home in 2005 after her adjustable rate mortgage was projected to rise from $3,100 to $3,500.
“We were not able to afford the loan and the home went into foreclosure,” Edmister said. “It was very hard. I tried to sell the home but I couldn’t because of the market. I had to pray to God and say, ‘I am leaving it in your hands.’”
She said she was able to come up with $10,000, had her load reinstated and then modified.
-- Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post editors
| March 15, 2010; 6:30 PM ET
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